Neurotransmitter-Modulated Ionic Currents of Brainstem Neurons and Some of Their Targets

  • Mircea Steriade
  • Robert W. McCarley


This chapter discusses the actions on target neurons of projections from chemically identified neurons within the brainstem. The actions of brainstem chemical transmitters are discussed primarily on the basis of intracellular investigations in vitro, although some intracellular and extracellular in vivo data are included. Needless to say, data from in vitro experiments are the most reliable since they can be obtained after blockage of synaptic transmission, and the concentrations of agents can be precisely specified, in addition to the greater stability of recording conditions. One should, however, also emphasize the necessity of reproducing the effects of agent application by stimulation of the appropriate pathway. It is also unlikely that the complex conditions of behavioral states, and even the mechanisms underlying just one physiological correlate of states of vigilance, will be found to be attributable to one synaptic transmitter. Thus, the data presented here should be considered as a prologue to future studies that will also explore transmitter interactions, including synergetic or competitive actions of colocalized transmitters, and will more deeply probe second messenger actions.


Locus Coeruleus Excitatory Amino Acid Input Resistance Potassium Conductance Locus Coeruleus Neuron 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mircea Steriade
    • 1
  • Robert W. McCarley
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculté de MédecineUniversité LavalCanada
  2. 2.Veterans Administration Medical CenterHarvard Medical SchoolBrocktonUSA

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