Cortical neurons integrate thousands of synaptic inputs in their dendrites in highly nonlinear ways. It is unknown how these dendritic nonlinearities in individual cells contribute to computations at the level of neural circuits. Here we show that dendritic nonlinearities are critical for the efficient integration of synaptic inputs in circuits performing analog computations with spiking neurons. We developed a theory that formalises how a neuron's dendritic nonlinearity that is optimal for integrating synaptic inputs depends on the statistics of its presynaptic activity patterns. Based on their in vivo preynaptic population statistics (firing rates, membrane potential fluctuations, and correlations due to ensemble dynamics), our theory accurately predicted the responses of two different types of cortical pyramidal cells to patterned stimulation by two-photon glutamate uncaging. These results reveal a new computational principle underlying dendritic integration in cortical neurons by suggesting a functional link between cellular and systems-level properties of cortical circuits.
Animal experimentation: Hippocampal experiments were conducted according to methods approved by the Janelia Farm Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and 26 the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) of the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Hungarian Academy of 27 Sciences, and in accordance with 86/609/EEC/2 and DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU Directives of the EU. Neocortical experiments were performed in strict accordance with guidelines of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research and with the national guidelines.
- Frances K Skinner, University Health Network, Canada
© 2015, Ujfalussy et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Understanding neuronal representations of odor-evoked activities and their progressive transformation from the sensory level to higher brain centers features one of the major aims in olfactory neuroscience. Here, we investigated how odor information is transformed and represented in higher-order neurons of the lateral horn, one of the higher olfactory centers implicated in determining innate behavior, using Drosophila melanogaster. We focused on a subset of third-order glutamatergic lateral horn neurons (LHNs) and characterized their odor coding properties in relation to their presynaptic partner neurons, the projection neurons (PNs) by two-photon functional imaging. We show that odors evoke reproducible, stereotypic, and odor-specific response patterns in LHNs. Notably, odor-evoked responses in these neurons are valence-specific in a way that their response amplitude is positively correlated with innate odor preferences. We postulate that this valence-specific activity is the result of integrating inputs from multiple olfactory channels through second-order neurons. GRASP and micro-lesioning experiments provide evidence that glutamatergic LHNs obtain their major excitatory input from uniglomerular PNs, while they receive an odor-specific inhibition through inhibitory multiglomerular PNs. In summary, our study indicates that odor representations in glutamatergic LHNs encode hedonic valence and odor identity and primarily retain the odor coding properties of second-order neurons.
Learned movements can be skillfully performed at different paces. What neural strategies produce this flexibility? Can they be predicted and understood by network modeling? We trained monkeys to perform a cycling task at different speeds, and trained artificial recurrent networks to generate the empirical muscle-activity patterns. Network solutions reflected the principle that smooth well-behaved dynamics require low trajectory tangling. Network solutions had a consistent form, which yielded quantitative and qualitative predictions. To evaluate predictions, we analyzed motor cortex activity recorded during the same task. Responses supported the hypothesis that the dominant neural signals reflect not muscle activity, but network-level strategies for generating muscle activity. Single-neuron responses were better accounted for by network activity than by muscle activity. Similarly, neural population trajectories shared their organization not with muscle trajectories, but with network solutions. Thus, cortical activity could be understood based on the need to generate muscle activity via dynamics that allow smooth, robust control over movement speed.