Motor cortex (M1) is classically considered an agranular area, lacking a distinct layer 4 (L4). Here, we tested the idea that M1, despite lacking a cytoarchitecturally visible L4, nevertheless possesses its equivalent in the form of excitatory neurons with input-output circuits like those of L4 neurons in sensory areas. Consistent with this idea, we found that neurons located in a thin laminar zone at the L3/5A border in the forelimb area of mouse M1 have multiple L4-like synaptic connections: excitatory input from thalamus, largely unidirectional excitatory outputs to L2/3 pyramidal neurons, and relatively weak long-range corticocortical inputs and outputs. M1-L4 neurons were electrophysiologically diverse but morphologically uniform, with pyramidal-type dendritic arbors and locally ramifying axons including branches extending into L2/3. Our findings therefore identify pyramidal neurons in M1 with the expected prototypical circuit properties of excitatory L4 neurons, and question the traditional assumption that motor cortex lacks this layer.
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 approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols (1248, 1331, 3310) of Northwestern University.
- Sacha B Nelson, Brandeis University, United States
© 2014, Yamawaki et al.
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Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation (STN DBS) relieves many motor symptoms of Parkinson's Disease (PD), but its underlying therapeutic mechanisms remain unclear. Since its advent, three major theories have been proposed: (1) DBS inhibits the STN and basal ganglia output; (2) DBS antidromically activates motor cortex; and (3) DBS disrupts firing dynamics within the STN. Previously, stimulation-related electrical artifacts limited mechanistic investigations using electrophysiology. We used electrical artifact-free GCaMP fiber photometry to investigate activity in basal ganglia nuclei during STN DBS in parkinsonian mice. To test whether the observed changes in activity were sufficient to relieve motor symptoms, we then combined electrophysiological recording with targeted optical DBS protocols. Our findings suggest that STN DBS exerts its therapeutic effect through the disruption of movement-related STN activity, rather than inhibition or antidromic activation. These results provide insight into optimizing PD treatments and establish an approach for investigating DBS in other neuropsychiatric conditions.
The hippocampus consists of a stereotyped neuronal circuit repeated along the septal-temporal axis. This transverse circuit contains distinct subfields with stereotyped connectivity that support crucial cognitive processes, including episodic and spatial memory. However, comprehensive measurements across the transverse hippocampal circuit in vivo are intractable with existing techniques. Here, we developed an approach for two-photon imaging of the transverse hippocampal plane in awake mice via implanted glass microperiscopes, allowing optical access to the major hippocampal subfields and to the dendritic arbor of pyramidal neurons. Using this approach, we tracked dendritic morphological dynamics on CA1 apical dendrites and characterized spine turnover. We then used calcium imaging to quantify the prevalence of place and speed cells across subfields. Finally, we measured the anatomical distribution of spatial information, finding a non-uniform distribution of spatial selectivity along the DG-to-CA1 axis. This approach extends the existing toolbox for structural and functional measurements of hippocampal circuitry.