Working memory (WM), the ability to actively hold information in memory over a delay period of seconds, is a fundamental constituent of cognition. Delay-period activity in sensory cortices has been observed in WM tasks, but whether and when the activity plays a functional role for memory maintenance remains unclear. Here we investigated the causal role of auditory cortex (AC) for memory maintenance in mice performing an auditory WM task. Electrophysiological recordings revealed that AC neurons were active not only during the presentation of the auditory stimulus but also early in the delay period. Furthermore, optogenetic suppression of neural activity in AC during the stimulus epoch and early delay period impaired WM performance, whereas suppression later in the delay period did not. Thus, AC is essential for information encoding and maintenance in auditory WM task, especially during the early delay period.
Data deposited in Dryad Digital Repository, accessible here: doi:10.5061/dryad.8gtht76nf. Reviewer Link: https://datadryad.org/stash/share/izZSpsIhujfbQbO8rAcXZ54ZBhyev1JIV1RHfpIaV3U
- Jinghong Xu
- Liping Yu
- Liping Yu
- Jinghong Xu
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All experiments were performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the US National Institutes of Health. The protocol was approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of East China Normal University, Shanghai, China (m20160302).
- Brice Bathellier, CNRS, France
© 2021, Yu 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.
Cochlear implants are neuroprosthetic devices that can restore hearing in people with severe to profound hearing loss by electrically stimulating the auditory nerve. Because of physical limitations on the precision of this stimulation, the acoustic information delivered by a cochlear implant does not convey the same level of acoustic detail as that conveyed by normal hearing. As a result, speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants is typically poorer and more effortful than in listeners with normal hearing. The brain networks supporting speech understanding in listeners with cochlear implants are not well understood, partly due to difficulties obtaining functional neuroimaging data in this population. In the current study, we assessed the brain regions supporting spoken word understanding in adult listeners with right unilateral cochlear implants (n=20) and matched controls (n=18) using high-density diffuse optical tomography (HD-DOT), a quiet and non-invasive imaging modality with spatial resolution comparable to that of functional MRI. We found that while listening to spoken words in quiet, listeners with cochlear implants showed greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex than listeners with normal hearing, specifically in a region engaged in a separate spatial working memory task. These results suggest that listeners with cochlear implants require greater cognitive processing during speech understanding than listeners with normal hearing, supported by compensatory recruitment of the left prefrontal cortex.
Sleep strongly affects synaptic strength, making it critical for cognition, especially learning and memory formation. Whether and how sleep deprivation modulates human brain physiology and cognition is not well understood. Here we examined how overnight sleep deprivation vs overnight sufficient sleep affects (a) cortical excitability, measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation, (b) inducibility of long-term potentiation (LTP)- and long-term depression (LTD)-like plasticity via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), and (c) learning, memory, and attention. The results suggest that sleep deprivation upscales cortical excitability due to enhanced glutamate-related cortical facilitation and decreases and/or reverses GABAergic cortical inhibition. Furthermore, tDCS-induced LTP-like plasticity (anodal) abolishes while the inhibitory LTD-like plasticity (cathodal) converts to excitatory LTP-like plasticity under sleep deprivation. This is associated with increased EEG theta oscillations due to sleep pressure. Finally, we show that learning and memory formation, behavioral counterparts of plasticity, and working memory and attention, which rely on cortical excitability, are impaired during sleep deprivation. Our data indicate that upscaled brain excitability and altered plasticity, due to sleep deprivation, are associated with impaired cognitive performance. Besides showing how brain physiology and cognition undergo changes (from neurophysiology to higher-order cognition) under sleep pressure, the findings have implications for variability and optimal application of noninvasive brain stimulation.