Barrel cortical neurons and astrocytes coordinately respond to an increased whisker stimulus frequency
- Equal contributors
1 Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2 Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3 College of Life Science, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, China
Molecular Brain 2012, 5:12 doi:10.1186/1756-6606-5-12Published: 26 April 2012
Nerve cells program the brain codes to manage well-organized cognitions and behaviors. It remains unclear how a population of neurons and astrocytes work coordinately to encode their spatial and temporal activity patterns in response to frequency and intensity signals from sensory inputs.
With two-photon imaging and electrophysiology to record cellular functions in the barrel cortex in vivo, we analyzed the activity patterns of neurons and astrocytes in response to whisker stimuli with increasing frequency, an environmental stimulus pattern that rodents experience in the accelerated motion. Compared to the resting state, whisker stimulation caused barrel neurons and astrocytes to be activated more synchronously. An increased stimulus frequency up-regulated the activity strength of neurons and astrocytes as well as coordinated their interaction. The coordination among the barrel neurons and astrocytes was fulfilled by increasing their functional connections.
Our study reveals that the nerve cells in the barrel cortex encode frequency messages in whisker tactile inputs through setting their activity coordination.