Dopamine D2-class receptors have been shown to control the excitability of striatal neurons in response to cortical activation. It has been unclear, however, whether such receptors could regulate the number of striatal neurons activated by cortical stimulation, and thus affect the population response of the striatum to its cortical inputs. We used Fos induction as a readout to measure the ensemble response of striatal neurons to localized stimulation of the frontal cortex and tested for the effects of D2-class dopamine receptor blockade on this response. In freely moving rats, we stimulated the frontal cortex by local epidural application of a dose of a GABA(A) receptor antagonist (picrotoxin) just threshold for inducing Fos in the striatum. We combined this treatment with D2-class dopamine receptor antagonist treatments at dose levels also just threshold for inducing Fos, using either (i) systemic haloperidol or (ii) intrastriatal (-)sulpiride. Both systemic and intrastriatal blockade of D2-class receptors sharply increased the numbers of striatal neurons exhibiting cortically evoked Fos induction. These findings suggest that local activation of intrastriatal D2-class dopamine receptors can regulate the number of striatal neurons responsive to cortical inputs, thus dynamically shaping the flow of information through the striatum.
- Frontal cortex
- Immediate-early gene