We have previously reported that central neurons mediating vestibulo-spinal reflexes and self-motion perception optimally encode natural self-motion (Mitchell et al., 2018). Importantly however, the vestibular nuclei also comprise other neuronal classes that mediate essential functions such as the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) and its adaptation. Here we show that heterogeneities in resting discharge variability mediate a trade-off between faithful encoding and optimal coding via temporal whitening. Specifically, neurons displaying lower variability did not whiten naturalistic self-motion but instead faithfully represented the stimulus' detailed time course, while neurons displaying higher variability displayed temporal whitening. Using a well-established model of VOR pathways, we demonstrate that faithful stimulus encoding is necessary to generate the compensatory eye movements found experimentally during naturalistic self-motion. Our findings suggest a novel functional role for variability towards establishing different coding strategies: 1) faithful stimulus encoding for generating the VOR; 2) optimized coding via temporal whitening for other vestibular functions.
Data is available on figshare: 10.6084/m9.figshare.12594803.
- Jérome Carriot
- Kathleen E Cullen
- Maurice J Chacron
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All experimental protocols were approved by the McGill University Animal Care Committee (#4096) and complied with the guidelines of the Canadian Council on Animal Care.
- Fred Rieke, University of Washington, United States
© 2020, Mackrous 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.
Medial frontal cortical areas are thought to play a critical role in the brain’s ability to flexibly deploy strategies that are effective in complex settings, yet the underlying circuit computations remain unclear. Here, by examining neural ensemble activity in male rats that sample different strategies in a self-guided search for latent task structure, we observe robust tracking during strategy execution of a summary statistic for that strategy in recent behavioral history by the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), especially by an area homologous to primate area 32D. Using the simplest summary statistic – strategy prevalence in the last 20 choices – we find that its encoding in the ACC during strategy execution is wide-scale, independent of reward delivery, and persists through a substantial ensemble reorganization that accompanies changes in global context. We further demonstrate that the tracking of reward by the ACC ensemble is also strategy-specific, but that reward prevalence is insufficient to explain the observed activity modulation during strategy execution. Our findings argue that ACC ensemble dynamics is structured by a summary statistic of recent behavioral choices, raising the possibility that ACC plays a role in estimating – through statistical learning – which actions promote the occurrence of events in the environment.
Several discrete groups of feeding-regulated neurons in the nucleus of the solitary tract (nucleus tractus solitarius; NTS) suppress food intake, including avoidance-promoting neurons that express Cck (NTSCck cells) and distinct Lepr- and Calcr-expressing neurons (NTSLepr and NTSCalcr cells, respectively) that suppress food intake without promoting avoidance. To test potential synergies among these cell groups we manipulated multiple NTS cell populations simultaneously. We found that activating multiple sets of NTS neurons (e.g., NTSLepr plus NTSCalcr (NTSLC), or NTSLC plus NTSCck (NTSLCK)) suppressed feeding more robustly than activating single populations. While activating groups of cells that include NTSCck neurons promoted conditioned taste avoidance (CTA), NTSLC activation produced no CTA despite abrogating feeding. Thus, the ability to promote CTA formation represents a dominant effect but activating multiple non-aversive populations augments the suppression of food intake without provoking avoidance. Furthermore, silencing multiple NTS neuron groups augmented food intake and body weight to a greater extent than silencing single populations, consistent with the notion that each of these NTS neuron populations plays crucial and cumulative roles in the control of energy balance. We found that silencing NTSLCK neurons failed to blunt the weight-loss response to vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) and that feeding activated many non-NTSLCK neurons, however, suggesting that as-yet undefined NTS cell types must make additional contributions to the restraint of feeding.