Vincenzo Crunelli, Magor L Lorincz, William M Connelly, Francois David, Stuart W Hughes, Regis Lambert, Nathalie Leresche and Adam C Errington
(2018) Nature Reviews Neuroscience 19(2):107-118.
During inattentive wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, the neocortex and thalamus cooperatively engage in rhythmic activities that are exquisitely reflected in the electroencephalogram as distinctive rhythms spanning a range of frequencies from <1 Hz slow waves to 13 Hz alpha waves. In the thalamus, these diverse activities emerge through the interaction of cell-intrinsic mechanisms and local and long-range synaptic inputs. One crucial feature, however, unifies thalamic oscillations of different frequencies: repetitive burst firing driven by voltage-dependent Ca2+ spikes. Recent evidence reveals that thalamic Ca2+ spikes are inextricably linked to global somatodendritic Ca2+ transients and are essential for several forms of thalamic plasticity. Thus, we propose herein that alongside their rhythm-regulation function, thalamic oscillations of low-vigilance states have a plasticity function that, through modifications of synaptic strength and cellular excitability in local neuronal assemblies, can shape ongoing oscillations during inattention and NREM sleep and may potentially reconfigure thalamic networks for faithful information processing during attentive wakefulness.