Effective perceptual decisions rely upon combining sensory information with knowledge of the rewards available for different choices. However, it is not known where reward signals interact with the multiple stages of the perceptual decision-making pathway and by what mechanisms this may occur. We combined electrical microstimulation of functionally specific groups of neurons in visual area V5/MT with performance-contingent reward manipulation, while monkeys performed a visual discrimination task. Microstimulation was less effective in shifting perceptual choices towards the stimulus preferences of the stimulated neurons when available reward was larger. Psychophysical control experiments showed this result was not explained by a selective change in response strategy on microstimulated trials. A bounded accumulation decision model, applied to analyse behavioural performance, revealed that the interaction of expected reward with microstimulation can be explained if expected reward modulates a sensory representation stage of perceptual decision-making, in addition to the better-known effects at the integration stage.
Animal experimentation: Animal experimentation was conducted at two locations: University of Oxford, UK, and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, USA. At Oxford, all procedures were approved by the United Kingdom Home Office, and strictly complied with the restrictions and provisions contained in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. At NIH, all procedures strictly complied with US Public Health Service policy on the humane care and use of animals, and the protocol was approved by the National Eye Institute (NEI) Animal Care and Use Committee (protocol #NEI-567). Every effort was made to minimise potential sources of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animals involved in the study.
- Matteo Carandini, University College London, United Kingdom
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Previously, we developed a novel model for anxiety during motivated behavior by training rats to perform a task where actions executed to obtain a reward were probabilistically punished and observed that after learning, neuronal activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) represent the relationship between action and punishment risk (Park and Moghaddam, 2017). Here, we used male and female rats to expand on the previous work by focusing on neural changes in the dmPFC and VTA that were associated with the learning of probabilistic punishment, and anxiolytic treatment with diazepam after learning. We find that adaptive neural responses of dmPFC and VTA during the learning of anxiogenic contingencies are independent from the punisher experience and occur primarily during the peri-action and reward period. Our results also identify peri-action ramping of VTA neural calcium activity, and VTA-dmPFC correlated activity, as potential markers for the anxiolytic properties of diazepam.
Repressor element 1-silencing transcription factor (REST) is a transcriptional repressor that recognizes neuron-restrictive silencer elements in the mammalian genomes in a tissue- and cell-specific manner. The identity of REST target genes and molecular details of how REST regulates them are emerging. We performed conditional null deletion of Rest (cKO), mainly restricted to murine hair cells (HCs) and auditory neurons (aka spiral ganglion neurons [SGNs]). Null inactivation of full-length REST did not affect the development of normal HCs and SGNs but manifested as progressive hearing loss in adult mice. We found that the inactivation of REST resulted in an increased abundance of Kv7.4 channels at the transcript, protein, and functional levels. Specifically, we found that SGNs and HCs from Rest cKO mice displayed increased Kv7.4 expression and augmented Kv7 currents; SGN’s excitability was also significantly reduced. Administration of a compound with Kv7.4 channel activator activity, fasudil, recapitulated progressive hearing loss in mice. In contrast, inhibition of the Kv7 channels by XE991 rescued the auditory phenotype of Rest cKO mice. Previous studies identified some loss-of-function mutations within the Kv7.4-coding gene, Kcnq4, as a causative factor for progressive hearing loss in mice and humans. Thus, the findings reveal that a critical homeostatic Kv7.4 channel level is required for proper auditory functions.