Decision-makers often arrive at different choices when faced with repeated presentations of the same evidence. Variability of behavior is commonly attributed to noise in the brain’s decision-making machinery. We hypothesized that phasic responses of brainstem arousal systems are a significant source of this variability. We tracked pupil responses (a proxy of phasic arousal) during sensory-motor decisions in humans, across different sensory modalities and task protocols. Large pupil responses generally predicted a reduction in decision bias. Using fMRI, we showed that the pupil-linked bias reduction was (i) accompanied by a modulation of choice-encoding pattern signals in parietal and prefrontal cortex and (ii) predicted by phasic, pupil-linked responses of a number of neuromodulatory brainstem centers involved in the control of cortical arousal state, including the noradrenergic locus coeruleus. We conclude that phasic arousal suppresses decision bias on a trial-by-trial basis, thus accounting for a significant component of the variability of choice behavior.
- Tobias H Donner
- Tobias H Donner
- Tobias H Donner
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All subjects gave written informed consent, and consent to publish. The ethics committee of the Psychology Department of the University of Amsterdam approved the experiments (Id's: 2014-BC-3406; 2015-BC-4613; 2016-BC-6842).
- Klaas Enno Stephan, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Switzerland
© 2017, de Gee 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.
The hippocampus consists of a stereotyped neuronal circuit repeated along the septal-temporal axis. This transverse circuit contains distinct subfields with stereotyped connectivity that support crucial cognitive processes, including episodic and spatial memory. However, comprehensive measurements across the transverse hippocampal circuit in vivo are intractable with existing techniques. Here, we developed an approach for two-photon imaging of the transverse hippocampal plane in awake mice via implanted glass microperiscopes, allowing optical access to the major hippocampal subfields and to the dendritic arbor of pyramidal neurons. Using this approach, we tracked dendritic morphological dynamics on CA1 apical dendrites and characterized spine turnover. We then used calcium imaging to quantify the prevalence of place and speed cells across subfields. Finally, we measured the anatomical distribution of spatial information, finding a non-uniform distribution of spatial selectivity along the DG-to-CA1 axis. This approach extends the existing toolbox for structural and functional measurements of hippocampal circuitry.
The presynaptic protein α-synuclein (αSyn) has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In PD, the amygdala is prone to develop insoluble αSyn aggregates, and it has been suggested that circuit dysfunction involving the amygdala contributes to the psychiatric symptoms. Yet, how αSyn aggregates affect amygdala function is unknown. In this study, we examined αSyn in glutamatergic axon terminals and the impact of its aggregation on glutamatergic transmission in the basolateral amygdala (BLA). We found that αSyn is primarily present in the vesicular glutamate transporter 1-expressing (vGluT1+) terminals in mouse BLA, which is consistent with higher levels of αSyn expression in vGluT1+ glutamatergic neurons in the cerebral cortex relative to the vGluT2+ glutamatergic neurons in the thalamus. We found that αSyn aggregation selectively decreased the cortico-BLA, but not the thalamo-BLA, transmission; and that cortico-BLA synapses displayed enhanced short-term depression upon repetitive stimulation. In addition, using confocal microscopy, we found that vGluT1+ axon terminals exhibited decreased levels of soluble αSyn, which suggests that lower levels of soluble αSyn might underlie the enhanced short-term depression of cortico-BLA synapses. In agreement with this idea, we found that cortico-BLA synaptic depression was also enhanced in αSyn knockout mice. In conclusion, both basal and dynamic cortico-BLA transmission were disrupted by abnormal aggregation of αSyn and these changes might be relevant to the perturbed cortical control of the amygdala that has been suggested to play a role in psychiatric symptoms in PD.