Splitting sensory information into parallel pathways is a common strategy in sensory systems. Yet, how circuits in these parallel pathways are composed to maintain or even enhance the encoding of specific stimulus features is poorly understood. Here, we have investigated the parallel pathways formed by mitral and tufted cells of the olfactory system in mice and characterized the emergence of feature selectivity in these cell types via distinct lateral inhibitory circuits. We find differences in activity-dependent lateral inhibition between mitral and tufted cells that likely reflect newly described differences in the activation of deep and superficial granule cells. Simulations show that these circuit-level differences allow mitral and tufted cells to best discriminate odors in separate concentration ranges, indicating that segregating information about different ranges of stimulus intensity may be an important function of these parallel sensory pathways.
Animal experimentation: All experiments were completed in compliance with the guidelines established by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Carnegie Mellon University.(IACUC # AS15-010) and University of Pittsburgh (IACUC # 15116582).
- Naoshige Uchida, Harvard University, United States
© 2016, Geramita et al.
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The locus coeruleus (LC) houses the vast majority of noradrenergic neurons in the brain and regulates many fundamental functions including fight and flight response, attention control, and sleep/wake cycles. While efferent projections of the LC have been extensively investigated, little is known about its local circuit organization. Here, we performed large-scale multi-patch recordings of noradrenergic neurons in adult mouse LC to profile their morpho-electric properties while simultaneously examining their interactions. LC noradrenergic neurons are diverse and could be classified into two major morpho-electric types. While fast excitatory synaptic transmission among LC noradrenergic neurons was not observed in our preparation, these mature LC neurons connected via gap junction at a rate similar to their early developmental stage and comparable to other brain regions. Most electrical connections form between dendrites and are restricted to narrowly spaced pairs or small clusters of neurons of the same type. In addition, more than two electrically coupled cell pairs were often identified across a cohort of neurons from individual multi-cell recording sets that followed a chain-like organizational pattern. The assembly of LC noradrenergic neurons thus follows a spatial and cell type-specific wiring principle that may be imposed by a unique chain-like rule.
Every decision that we make involves a conflict between exploiting our current knowledge of an action's value or exploring alternative courses of action that might lead to a better, or worse outcome. The sub-cortical nuclei that make up the basal ganglia have been proposed as a neural circuit that may contribute to resolving this explore-exploit 'dilemma'. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of neuromodulating the basal ganglia's output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, in patients who had undergone deep brain stimulation (DBS) for isolated dystonia. Neuromodulation enhanced the number of exploratory choices to the lower value option in a 2-armed bandit probabilistic reversal-learning task. Enhanced exploration was explained by a reduction in the rate of evidence accumulation (drift rate) in a reinforcement learning drift diffusion model. We estimated the functional connectivity profile between the stimulating DBS electrode and the rest of the brain using a normative functional connectome derived from heathy controls. Variation in the extent of neuromodulation induced exploration between patients was associated with functional connectivity from the stimulation electrode site to a distributed brain functional network. We conclude that the basal ganglia's output nucleus, the globus pallidus interna, can adaptively modify decision choice when faced with the dilemma to explore or exploit.