Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, Yale University (2006)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California San Francisco (2011)

Stanford Advisors

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Simultaneous fast measurement of circuit dynamics at multiple sites across the mammalian brain. Nature methods Kim, C. K., Yang, S. J., Pichamoorthy, N., Young, N. P., Kauvar, I., Jennings, J. H., Lerner, T. N., Berndt, A., Lee, S. Y., Ramakrishnan, C., Davidson, T. J., Inoue, M., Bito, H., Deisseroth, K. 2016; 13 (4): 325-328


    Real-time activity measurements from multiple specific cell populations and projections are likely to be important for understanding the brain as a dynamical system. Here we developed frame-projected independent-fiber photometry (FIP), which we used to record fluorescence activity signals from many brain regions simultaneously in freely behaving mice. We explored the versatility of the FIP microscope by quantifying real-time activity relationships among many brain regions during social behavior, simultaneously recording activity along multiple axonal pathways during sensory experience, performing simultaneous two-color activity recording, and applying optical perturbation tuned to elicit dynamics that match naturally occurring patterns observed during behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.3770

    View details for PubMedID 26878381

  • Nucleus accumbens D2R cells signal prior outcomes and control risky decision-making. Nature Zalocusky, K. A., Ramakrishnan, C., Lerner, T. N., Davidson, T. J., Knutson, B., Deisseroth, K. 2016; 531 (7596): 642-646


    A marked bias towards risk aversion has been observed in nearly every species tested. A minority of individuals, however, instead seem to prefer risk (repeatedly choosing uncertain large rewards over certain but smaller rewards), and even risk-averse individuals sometimes opt for riskier alternatives. It is not known how neural activity underlies such important shifts in decision-making-either as a stable trait across individuals or at the level of variability within individuals. Here we describe a model of risk-preference in rats, in which stable individual differences, trial-by-trial choices, and responses to pharmacological agents all parallel human behaviour. By combining new genetic targeting strategies with optical recording of neural activity during behaviour in this model, we identify relevant temporally specific signals from a genetically and anatomically defined population of neurons. This activity occurred within dopamine receptor type-2 (D2R)-expressing cells in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), signalled unfavourable outcomes from the recent past at a time appropriate for influencing subsequent decisions, and also predicted subsequent choices made. Having uncovered this naturally occurring neural correlate of risk selection, we then mimicked the temporally specific signal with optogenetic control during decision-making and demonstrated its causal effect in driving risk-preference. Specifically, risk-preferring rats could be instantaneously converted to risk-averse rats with precisely timed phasic stimulation of NAc D2R cells. These findings suggest that individual differences in risk-preference, as well as real-time risky decision-making, can be largely explained by the encoding in D2R-expressing NAc cells of prior unfavourable outcomes during decision-making.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature17400

    View details for PubMedID 27007845

  • Communication in Neural Circuits: Tools, Opportunities, and Challenges CELL Lerner, T. N., Ye, L., Deisseroth, K. 2016; 164 (6): 1136-1150


    Communication, the effective delivery of information, is fundamental to life across all scales and species. Nervous systems (by necessity) may be most specifically adapted among biological tissues for high rate and complexity of information transmitted, and thus, the properties of neural tissue and principles of its organization into circuits may illuminate capabilities and limitations of biological communication. Here, we consider recent developments in tools for studying neural circuits with particular attention to defining neuronal cell types by input and output information streams-i.e., by how they communicate. Complementing approaches that define cell types by virtue of genetic promoter/enhancer properties, this communication-based approach to defining cell types operationally by input/output (I/O) relationships links structure and function, resolves difficulties associated with single-genetic-feature definitions, leverages technology for observing and testing significance of precisely these I/O relationships in intact brains, and maps onto processes through which behavior may be adapted during development, experience, and evolution.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.027

    View details for Web of Science ID 000372784900012

    View details for PubMedID 26967281

  • Basomedial amygdala mediates top-down control of anxiety and fear. Nature Adhikari, A., Lerner, T. N., Finkelstein, J., Pak, S., Jennings, J. H., Davidson, T. J., Ferenczi, E., Gunaydin, L. A., Mirzabekov, J. J., Ye, L., Kim, S., Lei, A., Deisseroth, K. 2015; 527 (7577): 179-185


    Anxiety-related conditions are among the most difficult neuropsychiatric diseases to treat pharmacologically, but respond to cognitive therapies. There has therefore been interest in identifying relevant top-down pathways from cognitive control regions in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Identification of such pathways could contribute to our understanding of the cognitive regulation of affect, and provide pathways for intervention. Previous studies have suggested that dorsal and ventral mPFC subregions exert opposing effects on fear, as do subregions of other structures. However, precise causal targets for top-down connections among these diverse possibilities have not been established. Here we show that the basomedial amygdala (BMA) represents the major target of ventral mPFC in amygdala in mice. Moreover, BMA neurons differentiate safe and aversive environments, and BMA activation decreases fear-related freezing and high-anxiety states. Lastly, we show that the ventral mPFC-BMA projection implements top-down control of anxiety state and learned freezing, both at baseline and in stress-induced anxiety, defining a broadly relevant new top-down behavioural regulation pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature15698

    View details for PubMedID 26536109

  • Intact-Brain Analyses Reveal Distinct Information Carried by SNc Dopamine Subcircuits. Cell Lerner, T. N., Shilyansky, C., Davidson, T. J., Evans, K. E., Beier, K. T., Zalocusky, K. A., Crow, A. K., Malenka, R. C., Luo, L., Tomer, R., Deisseroth, K. 2015; 162 (3): 635-647


    Recent progress in understanding the diversity of midbrain dopamine neurons has highlighted the importance--and the challenges--of defining mammalian neuronal cell types. Although neurons may be best categorized using inclusive criteria spanning biophysical properties, wiring of inputs, wiring of outputs, and activity during behavior, linking all of these measurements to cell types within the intact brains of living mammals has been difficult. Here, using an array of intact-brain circuit interrogation tools, including CLARITY, COLM, optogenetics, viral tracing, and fiber photometry, we explore the diversity of dopamine neurons within the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). We identify two parallel nigrostriatal dopamine neuron subpopulations differing in biophysical properties, input wiring, output wiring to dorsomedial striatum (DMS) versus dorsolateral striatum (DLS), and natural activity patterns during free behavior. Our results reveal independently operating nigrostriatal information streams, with implications for understanding the logic of dopaminergic feedback circuits and the diversity of mammalian neuronal cell types.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2015.07.014

    View details for PubMedID 26232229

  • Frequency-Dependent, Cell Type-Divergent Signaling in the Hippocamposeptal Projection JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE Mattis, J., Brill, J., Evans, S., Lerner, T. N., Davidson, T. J., Hyun, M., Ramakrishnan, C., Deisseroth, K., Huguenard, J. R. 2014; 34 (35): 11769-11780


    Hippocampal oscillations are critical for information processing, and are strongly influenced by inputs from the medial septum. Hippocamposeptal neurons provide direct inhibitory feedback from the hippocampus onto septal cells, and are therefore likely to also play an important role in the circuit; these neurons fire at either low or high frequency, reflecting hippocampal network activity during theta oscillations or ripple events, respectively. Here, we optogenetically target the long-range GABAergic projection from the hippocampus to the medial septum in rats, and thereby simulate hippocampal input onto downstream septal cells in an acute slice preparation. In response to optogenetic activation of hippocamposeptal fibers at theta and ripple frequencies, we elicit postsynaptic GABAergic responses in a subset (24%) of septal cells, most predominantly in fast-spiking cells. In addition, in another subset of septal cells (19%) corresponding primarily to cholinergic cells, we observe a slow hyperpolarization of the resting membrane potential and a decrease in input resistance, particularly in response to prolonged high-frequency (ripple range) stimulation. This slow response is partially sensitive to GIRK channel and D2 dopamine receptor block. Our results suggest that two independent populations of septal cells distinctly encode hippocampal feedback, enabling the septum to monitor ongoing patterns of activity in the hippocampus.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5188-13.2014

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341314900025

    View details for PubMedID 25164672

  • RGS4 Is Required for Dopaminergic Control of Striatal LTD and Susceptibility to Parkinsonian Motor Deficits NEURON Lerner, T. N., Kreitzer, A. C. 2012; 73 (2): 347-359


    Plasticity of excitatory synapses onto striatal projection neurons (MSNs) has the potential to regulate motor function by setting the gain on signals driving both direct- and indirect-pathway basal ganglia circuits. Endocannabinoid-dependent long-term depression (eCB-LTD) is the best characterized form of striatal plasticity, but the mechanisms governing its normal regulation and pathological dysregulation are not well understood. We characterized two distinct signaling pathways mediating eCB production in striatal indirect-pathway MSNs and found that both pathways were modulated by dopamine D2 and adenosine A2A receptors, acting through cAMP/PKA. We identified regulator of G protein signaling 4 (RGS4) as a key link between D2/A2A signaling and eCB mobilization pathways. In contrast to wild-type mice, RGS4⁻/⁻ mice exhibited normal eCB-LTD after dopamine depletion and were significantly less impaired in the 6-OHDA model of Parkinson's disease. Taken together, these results suggest that inhibition of RGS4 may be an effective nondopaminergic strategy for treating Parkinson's disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.11.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299761600015

    View details for PubMedID 22284188

  • Neuromodulatory control of striatal plasticity and behavior CURRENT OPINION IN NEUROBIOLOGY Lerner, T. N., Kreitzer, A. C. 2011; 21 (2): 322-327


    Excitatory synapses onto projection neurons in the striatum, the input nucleus of the basal ganglia, play a key role in regulating basal ganglia circuit function and are a major site of long-term synaptic plasticity. Here, we review the mechanisms and regulation of both long-term potentiation and long-term depression at these synapses. In particular, we highlight the role that neuromodulators play in determining the strength and direction of plasticity, which ultimately shapes the balance of activity in basal ganglia circuits and regulates motor behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2011.01.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291188400017

    View details for PubMedID 21333525

  • Endocannabinoid Signaling Mediates Psychomotor Activation by Adenosine A(2A) Antagonists JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE Lerner, T. N., Horne, E. A., Stella, N., Kreitzer, A. C. 2010; 30 (6): 2160-2164


    Adenosine A(2A) receptor antagonists are psychomotor stimulants that also hold therapeutic promise for movement disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying their stimulant properties are not well understood. Here, we show that the robust increase in locomotor activity induced by an A(2A) antagonist in vivo is greatly attenuated by antagonizing cannabinoid CB(1) receptor signaling or by administration to CB(1)(-/-) mice. To determine the locus of increased endocannabinoid signaling, we measured the amount of anandamide [AEA (N-arachidonoylethanolamine)] and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) in brain tissue from striatum and cortex. We find that 2-AG is selectively increased in striatum after acute blockade of A(2A) receptors, which are highly expressed by striatal indirect-pathway medium spiny neurons (MSNs). Using targeted whole-cell recordings from direct- and indirect-pathway MSNs, we demonstrate that A(2A) receptor antagonists potentiate 2-AG release and induction of long-term depression at indirect-pathway MSNs, but not direct-pathway MSNs. Together, these data outline a molecular mechanism by which A(2A) antagonists reduce excitatory synaptic drive on the indirect pathway through CB(1) receptor signaling, thus leading to increased psychomotor activation.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5844-09.2010

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274398200017

    View details for PubMedID 20147543