Speech is a complex sensorimotor skill, and vocal learning involves both the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. These subcortical structures interact indirectly through their respective loops with thalamo-cortical and brainstem networks, and directly via subcortical pathways, but the role of their interaction during sensorimotor learning remains undetermined. While songbirds and their song-dedicated basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical circuitry offer an unique opportunity to study subcortical circuits involved in vocal learning, the cerebellar contribution to avian song learning remains unknown. We demonstrate that the cerebellum provides a strong input to the song-related basal ganglia nucleus in zebra finches. Cerebellar signals are transmitted to the basal ganglia via a disynaptic connection through the thalamus and then conveyed to their cortical target and to the premotor nucleus controlling song production. Finally, cerebellar lesions impair juvenile song learning, opening new opportunities to investigate how subcortical interactions between the cerebellum and basal ganglia contribute to sensorimotor learning.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Arthur Leblois
- Arthur Leblois
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animal care and experiments were carried out in accordance with the European directives (2010-63-UE) and the French guidelines (project 02260.01, Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Forêt). Experiments were approved by Paris Descartes University ethics committee (Permit Number: 13-092).
- Jennifer L Raymond, Stanford School of Medicine, United States
© 2018, Pidoux 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.
Even though human experience unfolds continuously in time, it is not strictly linear; instead, it entails cascading processes building hierarchical cognitive structures. For instance, during speech perception, humans transform a continuously varying acoustic signal into phonemes, words, and meaning, and these levels all have distinct but interdependent temporal structures. Time-lagged regression using temporal response functions (TRFs) has recently emerged as a promising tool for disentangling electrophysiological brain responses related to such complex models of perception. Here we introduce the Eelbrain Python toolkit, which makes this kind of analysis easy and accessible. We demonstrate its use, using continuous speech as a sample paradigm, with a freely available EEG dataset of audiobook listening. A companion GitHub repository provides the complete source code for the analysis, from raw data to group level statistics. More generally, we advocate a hypothesis-driven approach in which the experimenter specifies a hierarchy of time-continuous representations that are hypothesized to have contributed to brain responses, and uses those as predictor variables for the electrophysiological signal. This is analogous to a multiple regression problem, but with the addition of a time dimension. TRF analysis decomposes the brain signal into distinct responses associated with the different predictor variables by estimating a multivariate TRF (mTRF), quantifying the influence of each predictor on brain responses as a function of time(-lags). This allows asking two questions about the predictor variables: 1) Is there a significant neural representation corresponding to this predictor variable? And if so, 2) what are the temporal characteristics of the neural response associated with it? Thus, different predictor variables can be systematically combined and evaluated to jointly model neural processing at multiple hierarchical levels. We discuss applications of this approach, including the potential for linking algorithmic/representational theories at different cognitive levels to brain responses through computational models with appropriate linking hypotheses.
The functional complementarity of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and optokinetic reflex (OKR) allows for optimal combined gaze stabilization responses (CGR) in light. While sensory substitution has been reported following complete vestibular loss, the capacity of the central vestibular system to compensate for partial peripheral vestibular loss remains to be determined. Here, we first demonstrate the efficacy of a 6-week subchronic ototoxic protocol in inducing transient and partial vestibular loss which equally affects the canal- and otolith-dependent VORs. Immunostaining of hair cells in the vestibular sensory epithelia revealed that organ-specific alteration of type I, but not type II, hair cells correlates with functional impairments. The decrease in VOR performance is paralleled with an increase in the gain of the OKR occurring in a specific range of frequencies where VOR normally dominates gaze stabilization, compatible with a sensory substitution process. Comparison of unimodal OKR or VOR versus bimodal CGR revealed that visuo-vestibular interactions remain reduced despite a significant recovery in the VOR. Modeling and sweep-based analysis revealed that the differential capacity to optimally combine OKR and VOR correlates with the reproducibility of the VOR responses. Overall, these results shed light on the multisensory reweighting occurring in pathologies with fluctuating peripheral vestibular malfunction.