Training-dependent gradients of timescales of neural dynamics in the primate prefrontal cortex and their contributions to working memory.
The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Cortical neurons exhibit multiple timescales related to dynamics of spontaneous fluctuations (intrinsic timescales) and response to task events (seasonal timescales) in addition to selectivity to task-relevant signals. These timescales increase systematically across the cortical hierarchy, e.g., from parietal to prefrontal and cingulate cortex, pointing to their role in cortical computations. It is currently unknown whether these timescales are inherent properties of neurons and/or depend on training in a specific task, and if the latter, how their modulations contribute to task performance. To address these questions, we analyzed single-cell recordings within five subregions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of male macaques before and after training on a working-memory task. We found fine-grained but opposite gradients of intrinsic and seasonal timescales that mainly appeared after training. Intrinsic timescales decreased whereas seasonal timescales increased from posterior to anterior subregions within both dorsal and ventral PFC. Moreover, training was accompanied by increases in proportions of neurons that exhibited intrinsic and seasonal timescales. These effects were comparable to the emergence of response selectivity due to training. Finally, task selectivity accompanied opposite neural dynamics such that neurons with task-relevant selectivity exhibited longer intrinsic and shorter seasonal timescales. Notably, neurons with longer intrinsic and shorter seasonal timescales exhibited superior population-level coding, but these advantages extended to the delay period mainly after training. Together, our results provide evidence for plastic, fine-grained gradients of timescales within PFC that can influence both single-cell and population coding, pointing to the importance of these timescales in understanding cognition.Significance statement Recent studies have demonstrated that neural responses exhibit dynamics with different timescales that follow a certain order or hierarchy across cortical areas. While the hierarchy of timescales is consistent across different tasks, it is unknown if these timescales emerge only after training or if they represent inherent properties of neurons. To answer this question, we estimated multiple timescales in neural response across five subregions of the monkeys' lateral prefrontal cortex before and after training on a working-memory task. Our results provide evidence for fine-grained gradients related to certain neural dynamics. Moreover, we show that these timescales depend on and can be modulated by training in a cognitive task, and contribute to encoding of task-relevant information at single-cell and population levels.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2442-21.2023
View details for PubMedID 37973375
Functional interactions among neurons within single columns of macaque V1.
Recent developments in high-density neurophysiological tools now make it possible to record from hundreds of single neurons within local, highly interconnected neural networks. Among the many advantages of such recordings is that they dramatically increase the quantity of identifiable, functional interactions between neurons thereby providing an unprecedented view of local circuits. Using high-density, Neuropixels recordings from single neocortical columns of primary visual cortex in nonhuman primates, we identified 1000s of functionally interacting neuronal pairs using established crosscorrelation approaches. Our results reveal clear and systematic variations in the synchrony and strength of functional interactions within single cortical columns. Despite neurons residing within the same column, both measures of interactions depended heavily on the vertical distance separating neuronal pairs, as well as on the similarity of stimulus tuning. In addition, we leveraged the statistical power afforded by the large numbers of functionally interacting pairs to categorize interactions between neurons based on their crosscorrelation functions. These analyses identified distinct, putative classes of functional interactions within the full population. These classes of functional interactions were corroborated by their unique distributions across defined laminar compartments and were consistent with known properties of V1 cortical circuitry, such as the lead-lag relationship between simple and complex cells. Our results provide a clear proof-of-principle for the use of high-density neurophysiological recordings to assess circuit-level interactions within local neuronal networks.
View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.79322
View details for PubMedID 36321687
Entropy-based metrics for predicting choice behavior based on local response to reward
2021; 12 (1): 6567
For decades, behavioral scientists have used the matching law to quantify how animals distribute their choices between multiple options in response to reinforcement they receive. More recently, many reinforcement learning (RL) models have been developed to explain choice by integrating reward feedback over time. Despite reasonable success of RL models in capturing choice on a trial-by-trial basis, these models cannot capture variability in matching behavior. To address this, we developed metrics based on information theory and applied them to choice data from dynamic learning tasks in mice and monkeys. We found that a single entropy-based metric can explain 50% and 41% of variance in matching in mice and monkeys, respectively. We then used limitations of existing RL models in capturing entropy-based metrics to construct more accurate models of choice. Together, our entropy-based metrics provide a model-free tool to predict adaptive choice behavior and reveal underlying neural mechanisms.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-26784-w
View details for Web of Science ID 000718060500032
View details for PubMedID 34772943
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8590026