Rapid and stable control of pupil size in response to light is critical for vision, but the neural coding mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we investigated the neural basis of pupil control by monitoring pupil size across time while manipulating each photoreceptor input or neurotransmitter output of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), a critical relay in the control of pupil size. We show that transient and sustained pupil responses are mediated by distinct photoreceptors and neurotransmitters. Transient responses utilize input from rod photoreceptors and output by the classical neurotransmitter glutamate , but adapt within minutes. In contrast, sustained responses are dominated by non-conventional signaling mechanisms: melanopsin phototransduction in ipRGCs and output by the neuropeptide PACAP, which provide stable pupil maintenance across the day. These results highlight a temporal switch in the coding mechanisms of a neural circuit to support proper behavioral dynamics.
- William Thomas Keenan
- Alan C Rupp
- Samer S Hattar
- William Thomas Keenan
- Alan C Rupp
- Samer S Hattar
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
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 mice were housed according to guidelines from the Animal Care and Use Committee of Johns Hopkins University (Protocol # MO16A212), and used protocols approved by the JHU animal care and use committee.
- Constance L Cepko, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, United States
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Perceptual decisions about sensory input are influenced by fluctuations in ongoing neural activity, most prominently driven by attention and neuromodulator systems. It is currently unknown if neuromodulator activity and attention differentially modulate perceptual decision-making and/or whether neuromodulatory systems in fact control attentional processes. To investigate the effects of two distinct neuromodulatory systems and spatial attention on perceptual decisions, we pharmacologically elevated cholinergic (through donepezil) and catecholaminergic (through atomoxetine) levels in humans performing a visuo-spatial attention task, while we measured electroencephalography (EEG). Both attention and catecholaminergic enhancement improved decision-making at the behavioral and algorithmic level, as reflected in increased perceptual sensitivity and the modulation of the drift rate parameter derived from drift diffusion modeling. Univariate analyses of EEG data time-locked to the attentional cue, the target stimulus, and the motor response further revealed that attention and catecholaminergic enhancement both modulated pre-stimulus cortical excitability, cue- and stimulus-evoked sensory activity, as well as parietal evidence accumulation signals. Interestingly, we observed both similar, unique, and interactive effects of attention and catecholaminergic neuromodulation on these behavioral, algorithmic, and neural markers of the decision-making process. Thereby, this study reveals an intricate relationship between attentional and catecholaminergic systems and advances our understanding about how these systems jointly shape various stages of perceptual decision-making.
The relationship between obesity and human brain structure is incompletely understood. Using diffusion-weighted MRI from ∼30,000 UK Biobank participants, we test the hypothesis that obesity (waist-to-hip ratio, WHR) is associated with regional differences in two micro-structural MRI metrics: isotropic volume fraction (ISOVF), an index of free water, and intra-cellular volume fraction (ICVF), an index of neurite density. We observed significant associations with obesity in two coupled but distinct brain systems: a prefrontal/temporal/striatal system associated with ISOVF and a medial temporal/occipital/striatal system associated with ICVF. The ISOVF~WHR system colocated with expression of genes enriched for innate immune functions, decreased glial density, and high mu opioid (MOR) and other neurotransmitter receptor density. Conversely, the ICVF~WHR system co-located with expression of genes enriched for G-protein coupled receptors and decreased density of MOR and other receptors. To test whether these distinct brain phenotypes might differ in terms of their underlying shared genetics or relationship to maps of the inflammatory marker C-reactive Protein (CRP), we estimated the genetic correlations between WHR and ISOVF (rg = 0.026, P = 0.36) and ICVF (rg = 0.112, P < 9×10−4) as well as comparing correlations between WHR maps and equivalent CRP maps for ISOVF and ICVF (P<0.05). These correlational results are consistent with a two-way mechanistic model whereby genetically determined differences in neurite density in the medial temporal system may contribute to obesity, whereas water content in the prefrontal system could reflect a consequence of obesity mediated by innate immune system activation.