OBJECTIVE:The objective of the study were to investigate patterns of multiunit cluster firing in the piriform cortex (PC) and mediodorsal thalamus (MDT) in a rat model of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE) with absence seizures and to assess whether these regions contribute to the initiation or spread of generalized epileptiform discharges. METHODS:Multiunit clusters and their corresponding local field potentials (LFPs) were recorded from microelectrode arrays implanted in the PC and MDT in urethane anesthetized Genetic Absence Epilepsy Rats from Strasbourg (GAERS) and nonepileptic control (NEC) rats. Peristimulus time histograms (PSTHs) and cross-correlograms were used to observe transient changes in both the rate of firing and synchrony over time. The phase locking of multiunit clusters to LFP signals (spike-LFP phase locking) was calculated for frequency bands associated with olfactory communication between the two brain regions. RESULTS:There were significant increases in both rate of firing and synchronous activity at the onset of generalized epileptiform discharges in both PC and MDT. Prior to and following these increases in synchronous activity, there were periods of suppression. Significant increases in spike-LFP phase locking were observed within the PC prior to the onset of epileptiform discharges across all spectral bands. There were also significant increases in spike-LFP phase locking within the theta band of the MDT prior to onset. Between the two brain regions, there was a significant decrease in spike-LFP phase locking -0.5 s prior to onset in the theta band which coincided with a significant elevation in spike-LFP phase locking in the gamma band. CONCLUSIONS:Both the PC and MDT are engaged in the absence epilepsy network. Early spike-LFP phase locking between these two brain regions suggests potential involvement in the initiation of seizure activity.