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The basal ganglia are subcortical structures which are involved in the processing of motor, cognitive and motivational information which is projected mainly from the cortex. The principal components of the basal ganglia are the striatum, the pallidum (GP), the substantia nigra (SN) and the subthalamic nucleus (STN). Most neurons in the external and internal segments of the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra pars reticulata (GPe, GPi and SNr respectively) are characterized by high-frequency discharge (HFD) rate (50-80 Hz).

The high firing rate of GPe neurons is also interrupted by long intervals of silence (“pauses”). My study deals with two intertwining aspects of this unique firing pattern: (1) GPe pauses, mainly in an attempt to find out whether there are synaptically-driven (network process) in contrast to an intrinsic cellular mechanism (intrinsic process) or a result of global changes in the extracelular medium; and (2) the balance of discharge increases and decreases of the spontaneous activity of HFD neurons, especially in light of the anatomical studies which imply dominant inhibitory control of these neurons.

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