Single-unit extracellular neuronal recordings were obtained from the globus pallidus (GP) and the neostriatum (NS) of rats while they performed a learned head movement in response to an auditory cue. In both GP and NS, units that altered their discharge rate in association with head movements and with the cues that triggered these head movements were prevalent. Frequently, the responses were directionally-specific (i.e., the magnitude or direction of change in firing rate of these neurons was substantially different for trials in which head movements were made to the left vs. the right). For some units, firing rates were altered only in response to the movement cue or only in association with head movements. However, the majority of neurons exhibited responses with both cue-related and movement-related components. Neuronal responses to the auditory cue usually were context-dependent, in that they did not occur if the same stimulus was presented when the animal was not performing the task. At least a small proportion of GP and NS neurons also appeared to exhibit context-dependent movement-related activity, in that responses occasionally were observed that were associated either with sensory-triggered head movements or with spontaneous head movements, but not with both. These data are consistent with previous suggestions that the activity of basal ganglia neurons during movement performance is highly dependent on the conditions associated with movement initiation. The data also indicate that the response characteristics of both GP and NS neurons in the rat are generally similar to those that have been described for basal ganglia neurons in primates and cats during sensory triggered movement tasks. However, the proportion of task-related neurons that exhibited responses with both movement-related and cue-related components was greater than has generally been reported in studies of cats and primates, suggesting that neurons with these response properties may be more predominant in the rat basal ganglia.
Basal ganglia Globus pallidus Neostriatum Movement Neuronal activity Rat