Animals learn certain complex tasks remarkably fast, sometimes after a single experience. What behavioral algorithms support this efficiency? Many contemporary studies based on two-alternative-forced-choice (2AFC) tasks observe only slow or incomplete learning. As an alternative, we study the unconstrained behavior of mice in a complex labyrinth and measure the dynamics of learning and the behaviors that enable it. A mouse in the labyrinth makes ~2000 navigation decisions per hour. The animal explores the maze, quickly discovers the location of a reward, and executes correct 10-bit choices after only 10 reward experiences - a learning rate 1000-fold higher than in 2AFC experiments. Many mice improve discontinuously from one minute to the next, suggesting moments of sudden insight about the structure of the labyrinth. The underlying search algorithm does not require a global memory of places visited and is largely explained by purely local turning rules.
The behavioral data and code that produced the figures are available in a public Github repository cited in the article https://github.com/markusmeister/Rosenberg-2021-Repository. We are also preparing a permanent institutional repository.
- Markus Meister
- Pietro Perona
- Pietro Perona
- Pietro Perona
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to animal protocol 1656 approved by the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) at Caltech.
- Mackenzie W Mathis, EPFL, Switzerland
© 2021, Rosenberg 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.
Splicing is highly regulated and is modulated by numerous factors. Quantitative predictions for how a mutation will affect precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) structure and downstream function are particularly challenging. Here, we use a novel chemical probing strategy to visualize endogenous precursor and mature MAPT mRNA structures in cells. We used these data to estimate Boltzmann suboptimal structural ensembles, which were then analyzed to predict consequences of mutations on pre-mRNA structure. Further analysis of recent cryo-EM structures of the spliceosome at different stages of the splicing cycle revealed that the footprint of the Bact complex with pre-mRNA best predicted alternative splicing outcomes for exon 10 inclusion of the alternatively spliced MAPT gene, achieving 74% accuracy. We further developed a β-regression weighting framework that incorporates splice site strength, RNA structure, and exonic/intronic splicing regulatory elements capable of predicting, with 90% accuracy, the effects of 47 known and 6 newly discovered mutations on inclusion of exon 10 of MAPT. This combined experimental and computational framework represents a path forward for accurate prediction of splicing-related disease-causing variants.
Predicting the dynamics and functions of microbiomes constructed from the bottom-up is a key challenge in exploiting them to our benefit. Current models based on ecological theory fail to capture complex community behaviors due to higher order interactions, do not scale well with increasing complexity and in considering multiple functions. We develop and apply a long short-term memory (LSTM) framework to advance our understanding of community assembly and health-relevant metabolite production using a synthetic human gut community. A mainstay of recurrent neural networks, the LSTM learns a high dimensional data-driven non-linear dynamical system model. We show that the LSTM model can outperform the widely used generalized Lotka-Volterra model based on ecological theory. We build methods to decipher microbe-microbe and microbe-metabolite interactions from an otherwise black-box model. These methods highlight that Actinobacteria, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria are significant drivers of metabolite production whereas Bacteroides shape community dynamics. We use the LSTM model to navigate a large multidimensional functional landscape to design communities with unique health-relevant metabolite profiles and temporal behaviors. In sum, the accuracy of the LSTM model can be exploited for experimental planning and to guide the design of synthetic microbiomes with target dynamic functions.