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Effects of activation of the histaminergic tuberomammillary nucleus on visual responses of neurons in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus

Effects of activation of the histaminergic tuberomammillary nucleus on visual responses of neurons in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus

Journal of Neuroscience 22(3): 1098-1107

We investigated the effects of the central histaminergic system on afferent sensory signals in the retinogeniculocortical pathway in the intact brain. Extracellular physiological recordings in vivo were obtained from neurons in the cat dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in conjunction with electrical activation of the histamine-containing cells in the tuberomammillary nucleus of the hypothalamus. Tuberomammillary activation resulted in a rapid and significant increase in the amplitude of baseline activity and visual responses in LGN neurons. Geniculate X- and Y-cells were affected similarly. LGN cells that exhibited a burst pattern of activity in the control condition switched to a tonic firing pattern during tuberomammillary activation. Effects on visual response properties were assessed using drifting sinusoidal gratings of varied spatial frequency. The resultant spatial tuning curves were elevated by tuberomammillary activation, but there was no change in tuning curve shape. Rather, the effect was proportionate to the control response, with the greatest tuberomammillary effects at spatial frequencies already optimal for the cell. Tuberomammillary activation caused a small phase lag in the visual response that was similar at all spatial frequencies, consistent with the induced shift from burst to tonic firing mode. These results indicate a significant histaminergic effect on LGN thalamocortical cells, with no clear effect on thalamic inhibitory neurons. The histaminergic system appears to strengthen central transmission of afferent information, intensifying but not transforming the retinally derived signals. Promoting sensory input may be one way in which the histaminergic system plays a role in arousal.

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Accession: 010544070

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PMID: 11826138

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