Computational models postulate that head-direction (HD) cells are part of an attractor network integrating head turns. This network requires inputs from visual landmarks to anchor the HD signal to the external world. We investigated whether information about HD and visual landmarks is integrated in the medial entorhinal cortex and parasubiculum, resulting in neurons expressing a conjunctive code for HD and visual landmarks. We found that parahippocampal HD cells could be divided into two classes based on their theta-rhythmic activity: non-rhythmic and theta-rhythmic HD cells. Manipulations of the visual landmarks caused tuning curve alterations in most HD cells, with the largest visually driven changes observed in non-rhythmic HD cells. Importantly, the tuning modifications of non-rhythmic HD cells were often non-coherent across cells, refuting the notion that attractor-like dynamics control non-rhythmic HD cells. These findings reveal a new population of non-rhythmic HD cells whose malleable organization is controlled by visual landmarks.
- Kevin Allen
- Kevin Allen
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All experiments were carried out in accordance with the European Committees Directive (86/609/EEC) and were approved by the Governmental Supervisory Panel on Animal Experiments of Baden Wurttemberg in Karlsruhe (35-9185.81/G-50/14).
- Neil Burgess, University College London, United Kingdom
© 2018, Kornienko 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.
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Previously, we found that in the mammalian retina, inhibitory inputs onto starburst amacrine cells (SACs) are required for robust direction selectivity of On-Off direction-selective ganglion cells (On-Off DSGCs) against noisy backgrounds (Chen et al., 2016). However, the source of the inhibitory inputs to SACs and how this inhibition confers noise resilience of DSGCs are unknown. Here, we show that when visual noise is present in the background, the motion-evoked inhibition to an On-Off DSGC is preserved by a disinhibitory motif consisting of a serially connected network of neighboring SACs presynaptic to the DSGC. This preservation of inhibition by a disinhibitory motif arises from the interaction between visually evoked network dynamics and short-term synaptic plasticity at the SAC-DSGC synapse. While the disinhibitory microcircuit is well studied for its disinhibitory function in brain circuits, our results highlight the algorithmic flexibility of this motif beyond disinhibition due to the mutual influence between network and synaptic plasticity mechanisms.
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