Long-term memories are believed to be stored in the synapses of cortical neuronal networks. However, recent experiments report continuous creation and removal of cortical synapses, which raises the question how memories can survive on such a variable substrate. Here, we study the formation and retention of associative memory in a computational model based on Hebbian cell assemblies in the presence of both synaptic and structural plasticity. During rest periods, such as may occur during sleep, the assemblies reactivate spontaneously, reinforcing memories against ongoing synapse removal and replacement. Brief daily reactivations during rest-periods suffice to not only maintain the assemblies, but even strengthen them, and improve pattern completion, consistent with offline memory gains observed experimentally. While the connectivity inside memory representations is strengthened during rest phases, connections in the rest of the network decay and vanish thus reconciling apparently conflicting hypotheses of the influence of sleep on cortical connectivity.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. The source code zip archive (Source code 1) contains the model simulation code and the stimulation file used to generate Figure 2, 3, 4B&C, 5 and 6 as well as Figure 4-figure supplements 1 and 2.
- Michael Jan Fauth
- Mark CW van Rossum
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Frances K Skinner, Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network, Canada
© 2019, Fauth & van Rossum
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.
Basal forebrain cholinergic neurons modulate how organisms process and respond to environmental stimuli through impacts on arousal, attention, and memory. It is unknown, however, whether basal forebrain cholinergic neurons are directly involved in conditioned behavior, independent of secondary roles in the processing of external stimuli. Using fluorescent imaging, we found that cholinergic neurons are active during behavioral responding for a reward – even prior to reward delivery and in the absence of discrete stimuli. Photostimulation of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons, or their terminals in the basolateral amygdala (BLA), selectively promoted conditioned responding (licking), but not unconditioned behavior nor innate motor outputs. In vivo electrophysiological recordings during cholinergic photostimulation revealed reward-contingency-dependent suppression of BLA neural activity, but not prefrontal cortex. Finally, ex vivo experiments demonstrated that photostimulation of cholinergic terminals suppressed BLA projection neuron activity via monosynaptic muscarinic receptor signaling, while also facilitating firing in BLA GABAergic interneurons. Taken together, we show that the neural and behavioral effects of basal forebrain cholinergic activation are modulated by reward contingency in a target-specific manner.
Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is classically linked to inhibitory control, emotion regulation, and reward processing. Recent perspectives propose that the OFC also generates predictions about perceptual events, actions, and their outcomes. We tested the role of the OFC in detecting violations of prediction at two levels of abstraction (i.e., hierarchical predictive processing) by studying the event-related potentials (ERPs) of patients with focal OFC lesions (n = 12) and healthy controls (n = 14) while they detected deviant sequences of tones in a local–global paradigm. The structural regularities of the tones were controlled at two hierarchical levels by rules defined at a local (i.e., between tones within sequences) and at a global (i.e., between sequences) level. In OFC patients, ERPs elicited by standard tones were unaffected at both local and global levels compared to controls. However, patients showed an attenuated mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a to local prediction violation, as well as a diminished MMN followed by a delayed P3a to the combined local and global level prediction violation. The subsequent P3b component to conditions involving violations of prediction at the level of global rules was preserved in the OFC group. Comparable effects were absent in patients with lesions restricted to the lateral PFC, which lends a degree of anatomical specificity to the altered predictive processing resulting from OFC lesion. Overall, the altered magnitudes and time courses of MMN/P3a responses after lesions to the OFC indicate that the neural correlates of detection of auditory regularity violation are impacted at two hierarchical levels of rule abstraction.