Effects of bilateral microinjections of ibotenic acid in the thalamic reticular nucleus on delta oscillations and sleep in freely-moving rats
The thalamic reticular nucleus (NRT) consists of a large pool of GABAergic neurons located on each side on the anterior, lateral, and ventral surfaces of the dorsal thalamus. The NRT is divided up into sectors. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of bilateral lesions of the NRT on sleep and sleep oscillations. Only the results concerning delta oscillations will be reported here. As a first step we produced stereotaxically placed electrolytic lesions. The rats presented continuous circling behavior with electroencephalographic (EEG) theta and delta activity and subsequent sudden death. To avoid disruption of the bundles of fibers that pass through the NRT to and from the cerebral cortex, we used the excitotoxic ibotenic acid. Given its high toxicity, we concentrated on the rostral pole of the NRT, which is believed to have powerful effects on the synchronization of oscillatory activity during sleep. Immediately after surgery, the rats fell into a deep sleep during which there was an increase in EEG slow-wave activity and no spindles. On postoperative day 2, corresponding to the destruction period, the sleep/wake cycle partially recovered, but NREM sleep was quantitatively diminished and showed abnormalities (increased latency to sleep onset, sleep fragmentation, gradual elimination of the delta rhythm). It is concluded that the rostral pole of the NRT contributes to normal and pathological EEG synchronization and the organization of sleep in rats.
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