The thalamocortical synapse of the visual system has been central to our understanding of sensory computations in the cortex. Although we have a fair understanding of the functional properties of the pre and post-synaptic populations, little is known about their synaptic properties, particularly in vivo. We used simultaneous recordings in LGN and V1 in cat in vivo to characterize the dynamic properties of thalamocortical synaptic transmission in monosynaptically connected LGN-V1 neurons. We found that thalamocortical synapses in vivo are unreliable, highly variable and exhibit short-term plasticity. Using biologically constrained models, we found that variable and unreliable synapses serve to increase cortical firing by means of increasing membrane fluctuations, similar to high conductance states. Thus, synaptic variability and unreliability, rather than acting as system noise, do serve a computational function. Our characterization of LGN-V1 synaptic properties constrains existing mathematical models, and mechanistic hypotheses, of a fundamental circuit in computational neuroscience.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Raw data and MATLAB code have been uploaded to Dryad (http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.57pv818).
Data from: Thalamocortical synapses in the cat visual system in vivo are weak and unreliableDryad Digital Repository, http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.57pv818.
- Larry A Palmer
- Diego Contreras
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 of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) of the University of Pennsylvania (Protocol # 803477). All surgery was performed under sodium pentobarbital or propofol anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.
- John Huguenard, Stanford University School of Medicine, United States
© 2019, Sedigh-Sarvestani 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.
Consumption of food and water is tightly regulated by the nervous system to maintain internal nutrient homeostasis. Although generally considered independently, interactions between hunger and thirst drives are important to coordinate competing needs. In Drosophila, four neurons called the interoceptive subesophageal zone neurons (ISNs) respond to intrinsic hunger and thirst signals to oppositely regulate sucrose and water ingestion. Here, we investigate the neural circuit downstream of the ISNs to examine how ingestion is regulated based on internal needs. Utilizing the recently available fly brain connectome, we find that the ISNs synapse with a novel cell-type bilateral T-shaped neuron (BiT) that projects to neuroendocrine centers. In vivo neural manipulations revealed that BiT oppositely regulates sugar and water ingestion. Neuroendocrine cells downstream of ISNs include several peptide-releasing and peptide-sensing neurons, including insulin producing cells (IPCs), crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP) neurons, and CCHamide-2 receptor isoform RA (CCHa2R-RA) neurons. These neurons contribute differentially to ingestion of sugar and water, with IPCs and CCAP neurons oppositely regulating sugar and water ingestion, and CCHa2R-RA neurons modulating only water ingestion. Thus, the decision to consume sugar or water occurs via regulation of a broad peptidergic network that integrates internal signals of nutritional state to generate nutrient-specific ingestion.
Complex behaviors depend on the coordinated activity of neural ensembles in interconnected brain areas. The behavioral function of such coordination, often measured as co-fluctuations in neural activity across areas, is poorly understood. One hypothesis is that rapidly varying co-fluctuations may be a signature of moment-by-moment task-relevant influences of one area on another. We tested this possibility for error-corrective adaptation of birdsong, a form of motor learning which has been hypothesized to depend on the top-down influence of a higher-order area, LMAN (lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium), in shaping moment-by-moment output from a primary motor area, RA (robust nucleus of the arcopallium). In paired recordings of LMAN and RA in singing birds, we discovered a neural signature of a top-down influence of LMAN on RA, quantified as an LMAN-leading co-fluctuation in activity between these areas. During learning, this co-fluctuation strengthened in a premotor temporal window linked to the specific movement, sequential context, and acoustic modification associated with learning. Moreover, transient perturbation of LMAN activity specifically within this premotor window caused rapid occlusion of pitch modifications, consistent with LMAN conveying a temporally localized motor-biasing signal. Combined, our results reveal a dynamic top-down influence of LMAN on RA that varies on the rapid timescale of individual movements and is flexibly linked to contexts associated with learning. This finding indicates that inter-area co-fluctuations can be a signature of dynamic top-down influences that support complex behavior and its adaptation.