Neural landscape diffusion resolves conflicts between needs across time.
Animals perform flexible goal-directed behaviours to satisfy their basic physiological needs1-12. However, little is known about how unitary behaviours are chosen under conflicting needs. Here we reveal principles by which the brain resolves such conflicts between needs across time. We developed an experimental paradigm in which a hungry and thirsty mouse is given free choices between equidistant food and water. We found that mice collect need-appropriate rewards by structuring their choices into persistent bouts with stochastic transitions. High-density electrophysiological recordings during this behaviour revealed distributed single neuron and neuronal population correlates of a persistent internal goal state guiding future choices of the mouse. We captured these phenomena with a mathematical model describing a global need state that noisily diffuses across a shifting energy landscape. Model simulations successfully predicted behavioural and neural data, including population neural dynamics before choice transitions and in response to optogenetic thirst stimulation. These results provide a general framework for resolving conflicts between needs across time, rooted in the emergent properties of need-dependent state persistence and noise-driven shifts between behavioural goals.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-023-06715-z
View details for PubMedID 37938783
View details for PubMedCentralID 4306350
Deep posteromedial cortical rhythm in dissociation.
Advanced imaging methods now allow cell-type-specific recording of neural activity across the mammalian brain, potentially enabling the exploration of how brain-wide dynamical patterns give rise to complex behavioural states1-12. Dissociation is an altered behavioural state in which the integrity of experience is disrupted, resulting in reproducible cognitive phenomena including the dissociation of stimulus detection from stimulus-related affective responses. Dissociation can occur as a result of trauma, epilepsy or dissociative drug use13,14, but despite its substantial basic and clinical importance, the underlying neurophysiology of this state is unknown. Here we establish such a dissociation-like state in mice, induced by precisely-dosed administration of ketamine or phencyclidine. Large-scale imaging of neural activity revealed that these dissociative agents elicited a 1-3-Hz rhythm in layer5 neurons of the retrosplenial cortex. Electrophysiological recording with four simultaneously deployed high-density probes revealed rhythmic coupling of the retrosplenial cortex with anatomically connected components of thalamus circuitry, but uncoupling from most other brain regions was observed-including a notable inverse correlation with frontally projecting thalamic nuclei. In testing for causal significance, we found thatrhythmic optogenetic activation of retrosplenial cortex layer5 neurons recapitulated dissociation-like behavioural effects. Local retrosplenial hyperpolarization-activated cyclic-nucleotide-gated potassium channel 1 (HCN1) pacemakers were required for systemic ketamine to induce this rhythm and to elicit dissociation-like behavioural effects. In a patient with focal epilepsy, simultaneous intracranial stereoencephalography recordings from across the brain revealed a similarly localized rhythm in the homologous deep posteromedial cortex that was temporally correlated with pre-seizure self-reported dissociation, and local brief electrical stimulation of this region elicited dissociative experiences. These results identify themolecular, cellular and physiological properties of a conserved deep posteromedial cortical rhythm that underlies states of dissociation.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41586-020-2731-9
View details for PubMedID 32939091
Differential encoding in prefrontal cortex projection neuron classes across cognitive tasks.
Single-cell transcriptomics has been widely applied to classify neurons in the mammalian brain, while systems neuroscience has historically analyzed the encoding properties of cortical neurons without considering cell types. Here we examine how specific transcriptomic types of mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) projection neurons relate to axonal projections and encoding properties across multiple cognitive tasks. We found that most types projected to multiple targets, and most targets received projections from multiple types, except PFC→PAG (periaqueductal gray). By comparing Ca2+ activity of the molecularly homogeneous PFC→PAG type against two heterogeneous classes in several two-alternative choice tasks in freely moving mice, we found that all task-related signals assayed were qualitatively present in all examined classes. However, PAG-projecting neurons most potently encoded choice in cued tasks, whereas contralateral PFC-projecting neurons most potently encoded reward context in an uncued task. Thus, task signals are organized redundantly, but with clear quantitative biases across cells of specific molecular-anatomical characteristics.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2020.11.046
View details for PubMedID 33338423
Cerebellar nuclei evolved by repeatedly duplicating a conserved cell-type set.
Science (New York, N.Y.)
2020; 370 (6523)
How have complex brains evolved from simple circuits? Here we investigated brain region evolution at cell-type resolution in the cerebellar nuclei, the output structures of the cerebellum. Using single-nucleus RNA sequencing in mice, chickens, and humans, as well as STARmap spatial transcriptomic analysis and whole-central nervous system projection tracing, we identified a conserved cell-type set containing two region-specific excitatory neuron classes and three region-invariant inhibitory neuron classes. This set constitutes an archetypal cerebellar nucleus that was repeatedly duplicated to form new regions. The excitatory cell class that preferentially funnels information to lateral frontal cortices in mice becomes predominant in the massively expanded human lateral nucleus. Our data suggest a model of brain region evolution by duplication and divergence of entire cell-type sets.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abd5059
View details for PubMedID 33335034
Suppressing Memories by Shrinking the Vesicle Pool.
2019; 101 (1): 5–7
The cohesin complex regulates cellular functions spanning cell division and neuronal morphogenesis. Now, Phan etal. uncover a role for the cohesin complex in regulating memory acquisition and the size of the synaptic and dense-core vesicle pool.
View details for PubMedID 30605657
- Suppressing Memories by Shrinking the Vesicle Pool NEURON 2019; 101 (1): 5-7
Transsynaptic Mapping of Second-Order Taste Neurons in Flies by trans-Tango
2017; 96 (4): 783-+
Mapping neural circuits across defined synapses is essential for understanding brain function. Here we describe trans-Tango, a technique for anterograde transsynaptic circuit tracing and manipulation. At the core of trans-Tango is a synthetic signaling pathway that is introduced into all neurons in the animal. This pathway converts receptor activation at the cell surface into reporter expression through site-specific proteolysis. Specific labeling is achieved by presenting a tethered ligand at the synapses of genetically defined neurons, thereby activating the pathway in their postsynaptic partners and providing genetic access to these neurons. We first validated trans-Tango in the Drosophila olfactory system and then implemented it in the gustatory system, where projections beyond the first-order receptor neurons are not fully characterized. We identified putative second-order neurons within the sweet circuit that include projection neurons targeting known neuromodulation centers in the brain. These experiments establish trans-Tango as a flexible platform for transsynaptic circuit analysis.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.10.011
View details for Web of Science ID 000415310800011
View details for PubMedID 29107518
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5693608
Global Representations of Goal-Directed Behavior in Distinct Cell Types of Mouse Neocortex
2017; 94 (4): 891-?
The successful planning and execution of adaptive behaviors in mammals may require long-range coordination of neural networks throughout cerebral cortex. The neuronal implementation of signals that could orchestrate cortex-wide activity remains unclear. Here, we develop and apply methods for cortex-wide Ca(2+) imaging in mice performing decision-making behavior and identify a global cortical representation of task engagement encoded in the activity dynamics of both single cells and superficial neuropil distributed across the majority of dorsal cortex. The activity of multiple molecularly defined cell types was found to reflect this representation with type-specific dynamics. Focal optogenetic inhibition tiled across cortex revealed a crucial role for frontal cortex in triggering this cortex-wide phenomenon; local inhibition of this region blocked both the cortex-wide response to task-initiating cues and the voluntary behavior. These findings reveal cell-type-specific processes in cortex for globally representing goal-directed behavior and identify a major cortical node that gates the global broadcast of task-related information.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.04.017
View details for PubMedID 28521139