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Brain Res Bull. 1978 Sep-Oct;3(5):497-508.

Spontaneous and osmotically-stimulated activity in slices of rat hypothalamus.

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Department of Psychology Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


Single unit activity was recorded from 400-500 mu m thick slices of rat hypothalamus, using either NaCl- or horseradish peroxidase-filled glass micropipettes. Spontaneous activity was present in the following hypothalamic loci: anterior hypothalamic-preoptic area, nucleus circularis, nucleus of the diagonal band of Broca, paraventricular accessory nucleus, paraventricular nucleus (all portions), periventricular regions of the anterior hypothalamus, and the suprachiasmatic nucleus. The supraoptic nucleus was the only major cell group studied to exhibit no spontaneous activity. Cells of the paraventricular and circularis nuclei were spontaneously active, displayed firing rates and patterns of activity similar to those recorded in vivo for magnocellular elements of the hypothalamus, and in some cases responded to increases in the osmolality of the bathing medium with altered firing rates and/or patterns of activity. Many cells in these preparations were characterized by phasic, bursting patterns of activity. Slow, irregular and regular, continuous activity was also frequently observed, as is typical in vivo. Median firing rates were in the range of 4-6 spikes/sec, somewhat faster than the rates usually reported for anesthetized in vivo preparations. These rates are more similar to those observed in unanesthetized monkeys or rats with diencephalic islands. Extracellular HRP marking provided a high degree of localization for many of the recorded cells. These results indicate that the hypothalamic slice preparation is useful for studies in which it is desirable to eliminate extrahypothalamic connections and in which it is necessary to exercise a fine degree of control over the extracellular environment of the cells.

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