Primates use gaze cues to follow peer gaze to an object of joint attention. Gaze following of monkeys is largely determined by head or face orientation. We used fMRI in rhesus monkeys to identify brain regions underlying head gaze following and to assess their relationship to the 'face patch' system, the latter being the likely source of information on face orientation. We trained monkeys to locate targets by either following head gaze or using a learned association of face identity with the same targets. Head gaze following activated a distinct region in the posterior STS, close to-albeit not overlapping with-the medial face patch delineated by passive viewing of faces. This 'gaze following patch' may be the substrate of the geometrical calculations needed to translate information on head orientation from the face patches into precise shifts of attention, taking the spatial relationship of the two interacting agents into account.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to the guidelines of the German law regulating the usage of experimental animals and the protocols approved by the local institution in charge of experiments using animals (Regierungspraesidium Tuebingen, Abteilung Tierschutz, permit-number N1/08). All surgery was performed under combination anesthesia involving isoflurane and remifentanyl and every effort was made to minimize discomfort and suffering.
- Ranulfo Romo, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
© 2014, Marciniak et al.
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The presynaptic protein α-synuclein (αSyn) has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In PD, the amygdala is prone to develop insoluble αSyn aggregates, and it has been suggested that circuit dysfunction involving the amygdala contributes to the psychiatric symptoms. Yet, how αSyn aggregates affect amygdala function is unknown. In this study, we examined αSyn in glutamatergic axon terminals and the impact of its aggregation on glutamatergic transmission in the basolateral amygdala (BLA). We found that αSyn is primarily present in the vesicular glutamate transporter 1-expressing (vGluT1+) terminals in mouse BLA, which is consistent with higher levels of αSyn expression in vGluT1+ glutamatergic neurons in the cerebral cortex relative to the vGluT2+ glutamatergic neurons in the thalamus. We found that αSyn aggregation selectively decreased the cortico-BLA, but not the thalamo-BLA, transmission; and that cortico-BLA synapses displayed enhanced short-term depression upon repetitive stimulation. In addition, using confocal microscopy, we found that vGluT1+ axon terminals exhibited decreased levels of soluble αSyn, which suggests that lower levels of soluble αSyn might underlie the enhanced short-term depression of cortico-BLA synapses. In agreement with this idea, we found that cortico-BLA synaptic depression was also enhanced in αSyn knockout mice. In conclusion, both basal and dynamic cortico-BLA transmission were disrupted by abnormal aggregation of αSyn and these changes might be relevant to the perturbed cortical control of the amygdala that has been suggested to play a role in psychiatric symptoms in PD.
Animals can evolve dramatic sensory functions in response to environmental constraints, but little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these changes. The Mexican tetra, Astyanax mexicanus, is a leading model to study genetic, behavioral, and physiological evolution by comparing eyed surface populations and blind cave populations. We compared neurophysiological responses of posterior lateral line afferent neurons and motor neurons across A. mexicanus populations to reveal how shifts in sensory function may shape behavioral diversity. These studies indicate differences in intrinsic afferent signaling and gain control across populations. Elevated endogenous afferent activity identified a lower response threshold in the lateral line of blind cavefish relative to surface fish leading to increased evoked potentials during hair cell deflection in cavefish. We next measured the effect of inhibitory corollary discharges from hindbrain efferent neurons onto afferents during locomotion. We discovered that three independently derived cavefish populations have evolved persistent afferent activity during locomotion, suggesting for the first time that partial loss of function in the efferent system can be an evolutionary mechanism for neural adaptation of a vertebrate sensory system.