A common CNS architecture is observed in all chordates, from vertebrates to basal chordates like the ascidian Ciona. Ciona stands apart among chordates in having a complete larval connectome. Starting with visuomotor circuits predicted by the Ciona connectome, we used expression maps of neurotransmitter use with behavioral assays to identify two parallel visuomotor circuits that are responsive to different components of visual stimuli. The first circuit is characterized by glutamatergic photoreceptors and responds to the direction of light. These photoreceptors project to cholinergic motor neurons, via two tiers of cholinergic interneurons. The second circuit responds to changes in ambient light and mediates an escape response. This circuit uses GABAergic photoreceptors which project to GABAergic interneurons, and then to cholinergic interneurons. Our observations on the behavior of larvae either treated with a GABA receptor antagonist or carrying a mutation that eliminates photoreceptors indicate the second circuit is disinhibitory.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figures 1, 2, 5 and 6.
- William C Smith
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Oliver Hobert, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Columbia University, United States
© 2019, Kourakis 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.
Perceptual decisions about sensory input are influenced by fluctuations in ongoing neural activity, most prominently driven by attention and neuromodulator systems. It is currently unknown if neuromodulator activity and attention differentially modulate perceptual decision-making and/or whether neuromodulatory systems in fact control attentional processes. To investigate the effects of two distinct neuromodulatory systems and spatial attention on perceptual decisions, we pharmacologically elevated cholinergic (through donepezil) and catecholaminergic (through atomoxetine) levels in humans performing a visuo-spatial attention task, while we measured electroencephalography (EEG). Both attention and catecholaminergic enhancement improved decision-making at the behavioral and algorithmic level, as reflected in increased perceptual sensitivity and the modulation of the drift rate parameter derived from drift diffusion modeling. Univariate analyses of EEG data time-locked to the attentional cue, the target stimulus, and the motor response further revealed that attention and catecholaminergic enhancement both modulated pre-stimulus cortical excitability, cue- and stimulus-evoked sensory activity, as well as parietal evidence accumulation signals. Interestingly, we observed both similar, unique, and interactive effects of attention and catecholaminergic neuromodulation on these behavioral, algorithmic, and neural markers of the decision-making process. Thereby, this study reveals an intricate relationship between attentional and catecholaminergic systems and advances our understanding about how these systems jointly shape various stages of perceptual decision-making.
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