Profiling the transcallosal response of rat motor cortex evoked by contralateral optogenetic stimulation of glutamatergic cortical neurons
Efficient interhemispheric integration of neural activity between left and right primary motor cortex (M1) is critical for inter-limb motor control. We employed optogenetic stimulation to establish a framework for probing transcallosal M1-M1 interactions in rats. In male rats, we optogenetically stimulated glutamatergic neurons in right M1 and recorded the transcallosally evoked potential with chronically implanted electrodes in contralateral left M1 during dexmedetomidine anesthesia. We systematically varied the stimulation intensity and duration to characterize the relationship between stimulation parameters in right M1 and the characteristics of the evoked intracortical potentials in left M1. Optogenetic stimulation of right M1 consistently evoked a transcallosal response in left M1 with a consistent negative peak (N1) that sometimes was preceded by a smaller positive peak (P1). Higher stimulation intensity or longer stimulation duration gradually increased N1 amplitude and reduced N1 variability across trials. Median N1 latencies remained stable, once stimulation elicited a reliable N1 peak and did not display a systematic shortening with increasing stimulation intensity or duration. Optogenetically stimulated glutamatergic neurons in M1 can reliably evoke a transcallosal response in anesthetized rats and can be used to characterize the relationship between "stimulation dose" and "response magnitude" (i.e., the gain function) of transcallosal M1-to-M1 glutamatergic connections. Detailed knowledge of the stimulus-response relationship is needed to optimize the efficacy of optogenetic stimulation. Since transcallosal M1-M1 interactions can also be probed non-invasively with transcranial magnetic stimulation in humans, our optogenetic stimulation approach bears translational potential for studying how unilateral M1 stimulation can induce interhemispheric plasticity.
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