In the neocortex, neurons participate in epochs of elevated activity, or Up states, during periods of quiescent wakefulness, slow-wave sleep, and general anesthesia. The regulation of firing during and between Up states is of great interest because it can reflect the underlying connectivity and excitability of neurons within the network. Automated analysis of the onset and characteristics of Up state firing across different experiments and conditions requires a robust and accurate method for Up state detection. Using measurements of membrane potential mean and variance calculated from whole-cell recordings of neurons from control and postseizure tissue, the authors have developed such a method. This quantitative and automated method is independent of cell- or condition-dependent variability in underlying noise or tonic firing activity. Using this approach, the authors show that Up state frequency and firing rates are significantly increased in layer 2/3 neocortical neurons 24 hours after chemoconvulsant-induced seizure. Down states in postseizure tissue show greater membrane-potential variance characterized by increased synaptic activity. Previously, the authors have found that postseizure increase in excitability is linked to a gain-of-function in BK channels, and blocking BK channels in vitro and in vivo can decrease excitability and eliminate seizures. Thus, the authors also assessed the effect of BK-channel antagonists on Up state properties in control and postseizure neurons. These data establish a robust and broadly applicable algorithm for Up state detection and analysis, provide a quantitative description of how prior seizures increase spontaneous firing activity in cortical networks, and show how BK-channel antagonists reduce this abnormal activity.
From the *Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh; and †Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, ‡Department of Biological Sciences, and §Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Supported by an IGERT award from NSF (to R.C.G.), a Milken Family Foundation Translational Research Award, and start-up funds from Carnegie Mellon University (to A.L.B.).
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Richard C. Gerkin and Alison L. Barth, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, U.S.A.; e-mail: email@example.com.