Grid cells fire in sequences that represent rapid trajectories in space. During locomotion, theta sequences encode sweeps in position starting slightly behind the animal and ending ahead of it. During quiescence and slow wave sleep, bouts of synchronized activity represent long trajectories called replays, which are well-established in place cells and have been recently reported in grid cells. Theta sequences and replay are hypothesized to facilitate many cognitive functions, but their underlying mechanisms are unknown. One mechanism proposed for grid cell formation is the continuous attractor network. We demonstrate that this established architecture naturally produces theta sequences and replay as distinct consequences of modulating external input. Driving inhibitory interneurons at the theta frequency causes attractor bumps to oscillate in speed and size, which gives rise to theta sequences and phase precession, respectively. Decreasing input drive to all neurons produces traveling wavefronts of activity that are decoded as replays.
Source code for the simulations have been included as supporting files.
- Louis Kang
- Michael R DeWeese
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Sachin Deshmukh, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India
© 2019, Kang & DeWeese
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.
Neural circuit formation and function require that diverse neurons are specified in appropriate numbers. Known strategies for controlling neuronal numbers involve regulating either cell proliferation or survival. We used the Drosophila visual system to probe how neuronal numbers are set. Photoreceptors from the eye-disc induce their target field, the lamina, such that for every unit eye there is a corresponding lamina unit (column). Although each column initially contains ~6 post-mitotic lamina precursors, only 5 differentiate into neurons, called L1-L5; the ‘extra’ precursor, which is invariantly positioned above the L5 neuron in each column, undergoes apoptosis. Here, we showed that a glial population called the outer chiasm giant glia (xgO), which resides below the lamina, secretes multiple ligands to induce L5 differentiation in response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) from photoreceptors. By forcing neuronal differentiation in the lamina, we uncovered that though fated to die, the ‘extra’ precursor is specified as an L5. Therefore, two precursors are specified as L5s but only one differentiates during normal development. We found that the row of precursors nearest to xgO differentiate into L5s and, in turn, antagonise differentiation signalling to prevent the ‘extra’ precursors from differentiating, resulting in their death. Thus, an intricate interplay of glial signals and feedback from differentiating neurons defines an invariant and stereotyped pattern of neuronal differentiation and programmed cell death to ensure that lamina columns each contain exactly one L5 neuron.
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