The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been described as signaling outcome expectancies or value. Evidence for the latter comes from the studies showing that neural signals in the OFC correlate with value across features. Yet features can co-vary with value, and individual units may participate in multiple ensembles coding different features. Here we used unblocking to test whether OFC neurons would respond to a predictive cue signaling a 'valueless' change in outcome flavor. Neurons were recorded as the rats learned about cues that signaled either an increase in reward number or a valueless change in flavor. We found that OFC neurons acquired responses to both predictive cues. This activity exceeded that exhibited to a 'blocked' cue and was correlated with activity to the actual outcome. These results show that OFC neurons fire to cues with no value independent of what can be inferred through features of the predicted outcome.
Animal experimentation: Rats were tested at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the NIDA-IRP in accordance with SOM and NIH guidelines (12-CNRB-108).
- Howard Eichenbaum, Boston University, United States
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Prion diseases are caused by PrPSc, a self-replicating pathologically misfolded protein that exerts toxicity predominantly in the brain. The administration of PrPSc causes a robust, reproducible and specific disease manifestation. Here, we have applied a combination of translating ribosome affinity purification and ribosome profiling to identify biologically relevant prion-induced changes during disease progression in a cell-type-specific and genome-wide manner. Terminally diseased mice with severe neurological symptoms showed extensive alterations in astrocytes and microglia. Surprisingly, we detected only minor changes in the translational profiles of neurons. Prion-induced alterations in glia overlapped with those identified in other neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting that similar events occur in a broad spectrum of pathologies. Our results suggest that aberrant translation within glia may suffice to cause severe neurological symptoms and may even be the primary driver of prion disease.