In order to assess the contribution of a central clock in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) to circadian behavior and the organization of peripheral clocks, we generated forebrain/SCN-specific Bmal1 knockout mice by using floxed Bmal1 and pan-neuronal Cre lines. The forebrain knockout mice showed >90% deletion of BMAL1 in the SCN and exhibited an immediate and complete loss of circadian behavior in constant conditions. Circadian rhythms in peripheral tissues persisted, but became desynchronized and damped in constant darkness. The loss of synchrony was rescued by light/dark cycles, and partially by restricted feeding (only in the liver and kidney but not in the other tissues) in a distinct manner. These results suggest that the forebrain/SCN is essential for internal temporal order of robust circadian programs in peripheral clocks and that individual peripheral clocks are affected differently by light and feeding in the absence of a functional oscillator in the forebrain.
Animal experimentation: All animal care and use procedures were in accordance with guidelines of the Northwestern University (Protocol 2006-0035) and UT Southwestern Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (Protocols 2009-0054 and 2012-0090).
- Louis Ptáček, University of California, San Francisco, United States
© 2014, Izumo et al.
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Posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) is an enigmatic region implicated in psychiatric and neurological disease, yet its role in cognition remains unclear. Human studies link PCC to episodic memory and default mode network (DMN), while findings from the non-human primate emphasize executive processes more associated with the cognitive control network (CCN) in humans. We hypothesized this difference reflects an important functional division between dorsal (executive) and ventral (episodic) PCC. To test this, we utilized human intracranial recordings of population and single unit activity targeting dorsal PCC during an alternated executive/episodic processing task. Dorsal PCC population responses were significantly enhanced for executive, compared to episodic, task conditions, consistent with the CCN. Single unit recordings, however, revealed four distinct functional types with unique executive (CCN) or episodic (DMN) response profiles. Our findings provide critical electrophysiological data from human PCC, bridging incongruent views within and across species, furthering our understanding of PCC function.
Understanding how thought emerges from the topographical structure of the cerebral cortex is a primary goal of cognitive neuroscience. Recent work has revealed a principal gradient of intrinsic connectivity capturing the separation of sensory-motor cortex from transmodal regions of the default mode network (DMN); this is thought to facilitate memory-guided cognition. However, studies have not explored how this dimension of connectivity changes when conceptual retrieval is controlled to suit the context. We used gradient decomposition of informational connectivity in a semantic association task to establish how the similarity in connectivity across brain regions changes during familiar and more original patterns of retrieval. Multivoxel activation patterns at opposite ends of the principal gradient were more divergent when participants retrieved stronger associations; therefore, when long-term semantic information is sufficient for ongoing cognition, regions supporting heteromodal memory are functionally separated from sensory-motor experience. In contrast, when less related concepts were linked, this dimension of connectivity was reduced in strength as semantic control regions separated from the DMN to generate more flexible and original responses. We also observed fewer dimensions within the neural response towards the apex of the principal gradient when strong associations were retrieved, reflecting less complex or varied neural coding across trials and participants. In this way, the principal gradient explains how semantic cognition is organised in the human cerebral cortex: the separation of DMN from sensory-motor systems is a hallmark of the retrieval of strong conceptual links that are culturally shared.