The basal ganglia are a group of subcortical nuclei that play a prominent role in motor function in mammals as well as in lamprey. The aim of the present study was to characterize the different components of the lamprey basal ganglia, and determine to what extent they correspond to those found in the mammalian basal ganglia. Anatomical tract tracing, immunohistochemistry and acute brain slice patch clamp recordings were employed to address this question.Two pallidal regions were identified in the lamprey; one region, considered homologous to the mammalian globus pallidus, was located ventral to the ementia thalami on the telencephalic/diencephalic border. It receives striatal input from inwardly rectifying neurons (IRNs) and contains GABAergic projection neurons, of which those projecting to the tectum were shown to be tonically active. It also contains neurons immunoreactive for parvalbumin. Separate subpopulations of pallidal neurons project to the optic tectum, the diencephalic and mesencephalic locomotor regions (MLR).Another region, in the midbrain, considered homologous to the substantia nigra pars reticulata receives input from a different subset of IRNs and sends GABAergic projections to the tectum and the diencephalic locomotor region. This midbrain region also contains parvalbumin immunoreactive neurons. The main population of striatal neurons, IRNs, displays the anatomical and electrophysiological hallmarks of mammalian medium spiny neurons, including inward rectification and ramping responses to first spike. It also contains neurons with properties similar to fast-spiking neurons. The striatum receives pallial and thalamic input as well as ascending dopaminergic, serotonergic and histaminergic inputs, similar to that in mammals.Our results suggest that the basic features of the basal ganglia with regard to both structure and function are conserved throughout the vertebrate phylogeny, including striatal/pallidal subdivisions.
FENS Forum 2010. Amsterdam. 06/07/2010