Neurons in higher cortical areas, such as the prefrontal cortex, are often tuned to a variety of sensory and motor variables, and are therefore said to display mixed selectivity. This complexity of single neuron responses can obscure what information these areas represent and how it is represented. Here we demonstrate the advantages of a new dimensionality reduction technique, demixed principal component analysis (dPCA), that decomposes population activity into a few components. In addition to systematically capturing the majority of the variance of the data, dPCA also exposes the dependence of the neural representation on task parameters such as stimuli, decisions, or rewards. To illustrate our method we reanalyze population data from four datasets comprising different species, different cortical areas and different experimental tasks. In each case, dPCA provides a concise way of visualizing the data that summarizes the task-dependent features of the population response in a single figure.
- Mark CW van Rossum, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
© 2016, Kobak et al.
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The amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients’ brains contain collagens and are embedded extracellularly. Several collagens have been proposed to influence Aβ aggregate formation, yet their role in clearance is unknown. To investigate the potential role of collagens in forming and clearance of extracellular aggregates in vivo, we created a transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans strain that expresses and secretes human Aβ1-42. This secreted Aβ forms aggregates in two distinct places within the extracellular matrix. In a screen for extracellular human Aβ aggregation regulators, we identified different collagens to ameliorate or potentiate Aβ aggregation. We show that a disintegrin and metalloprotease a disintegrin and metalloprotease 2 (ADM-2), an ortholog of ADAM9, reduces the load of extracellular Aβ aggregates. ADM-2 is required and sufficient to remove the extracellular Aβ aggregates. Thus, we provide in vivo evidence of collagens essential for aggregate formation and metalloprotease participating in extracellular Aβ aggregate removal.
The cerebellar granule cell layer has inspired numerous theoretical models of neural representations that support learned behaviors, beginning with the work of Marr and Albus. In these models, granule cells form a sparse, combinatorial encoding of diverse sensorimotor inputs. Such sparse representations are optimal for learning to discriminate random stimuli. However, recent observations of dense, low-dimensional activity across granule cells have called into question the role of sparse coding in these neurons. Here, we generalize theories of cerebellar learning to determine the optimal granule cell representation for tasks beyond random stimulus discrimination, including continuous input-output transformations as required for smooth motor control. We show that for such tasks, the optimal granule cell representation is substantially denser than predicted by classical theories. Our results provide a general theory of learning in cerebellum-like systems and suggest that optimal cerebellar representations are task-dependent.