Principal neuron spiking: neither necessary nor sufficient for cerebral blood flow in rat cerebellum

Kirsten Thomsen, Nikolas Offenhauser, Martin Lauritzen


Neuronal activity, cerebral blood flow, and metabolic responses are all strongly coupled, although the mechanisms behind the coupling remain unclear. One of the key questions is whether or not increases in spiking activity in the stimulated neurons are sufficient to drive the activity-dependent rises in cerebral blood flow (CBF) that form the basis of the signals used in functional neuroimaging such as the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal. To this end the present study examined the effect of enhanced spike activity per se on CBF in rat cerebellar cortex under conditions of disinhibition, achieved by blocking GABA(A) receptors using either bicuculline or picrotoxin. Purkinje cell spiking activity and local field potentials were recorded by glass microelectrodes, and laser Doppler flowmetry was used to monitor CBF. Disinhibition increased Purkinje cell spiking rate to 200-300% of control without incurring any increase in basal CBF. This demonstrates that increased spike activity per se is not sufficient to affect basal CBF. The neurovascular coupling between excitatory synaptic activity and CBF responses evoked by inferior olive (climbing fibre) stimulation was preserved during disinhibition. Thus, the unchanged basal CBF in the presence of the dramatic rise in Purkinje cell spiking rate was not explained by impaired synaptic activity-CBF coupling. On the basis of our previous and the present studies, we conclude that increased spiking activity of principal neurons is neither sufficient nor necessary to elicit CBF responses and in turn BOLD signals, and that activation-dependent vascular signals reflect excitatory synaptic activity.

TidsskriftThe Journal of physiology
Udgave nummerPt 1
Sider (fra-til)181-9
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 1 okt. 2004


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