Wilson, M.T., Barry, M., Reynolds, J.N.J., Crump, W.P., Steyn-Ross, D.A., Steyn-Ross, M.L. & Sleigh, J.W. (2010). An analysis of the transitions between down and up states of the cortical slow oscillation under urethane anaesthesia. Journal of Biological Physics, 36(3), 245-259.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4899
We study the dynamics of the transition between the low- and high-firing states of the cortical slow oscillation by using intracellular recordings of the membrane potential from cortical neurons of rats. We investigate the evidence for a bistability in assemblies of cortical neurons playing a major role in the maintenance of this oscillation. We show that the trajectory of a typical transition takes an approximately exponential form, equivalent to the response of a resistor–capacitor circuit to a step-change in input. The time constant for the transition is negatively correlated with the membrane potential of the lowfiring state, and values are broadly equivalent to neural time constants measured elsewhere. Overall, the results do not strongly support the hypothesis of a bistability in cortical neurons; rather, they suggest the cortical manifestation of the oscillation is a result of a step-change in input to the cortical neurons. Since there is evidence from previous work that a phase transition exists, we speculate that the step-change may be a result of a bistability within other brain areas, such as the thalamus, or a bistability among only a small subset of cortical neurons, or as a result of more complicated brain dynamics.