5 years ago

Dopaminergic modulation of basal ganglia output through coupled excitation-inhibition [Neuroscience]

Dopaminergic modulation of basal ganglia output through coupled excitation-inhibition [Neuroscience]
Alison Duffy, Agata Budzillo, Kimberly E. Miller, Adrienne L. Fairhall, David J. Perkel

Learning and maintenance of skilled movements require exploration of motor space and selection of appropriate actions. Vocal learning and social context-dependent plasticity in songbirds depend on a basal ganglia circuit, which actively generates vocal variability. Dopamine in the basal ganglia reduces trial-to-trial neural variability when the bird engages in courtship song. Here, we present evidence for a unique, tonically active, excitatory interneuron in the songbird basal ganglia that makes strong synaptic connections onto output pallidal neurons, often linked in time with inhibitory events. Dopamine receptor activity modulates the coupling of these excitatory and inhibitory events in vitro, which results in a dynamic change in the synchrony of a modeled population of basal ganglia output neurons receiving excitatory and inhibitory inputs. The excitatory interneuron thus serves as one biophysical mechanism for the introduction or modulation of neural variability in this circuit.

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