Remembering the temporal order of a sequence of events is a task easily performed by humans in everyday life, but the underlying neuronal mechanisms are unclear. This problem is particularly intriguing as human behavior often proceeds on a time scale of seconds, which is in stark contrast to the much faster millisecond time-scale of neuronal processing in our brains. One long-held hypothesis in sequence learning suggests that a particular temporal fine-structure of neuronal activity - termed 'phase precession' - enables the compression of slow behavioral sequences down to the fast time scale of the induction of synaptic plasticity. Using mathematical analysis and computer simulations, we find that - for short enough synaptic learning windows - phase precession can improve temporal-order learning tremendously and that the asymmetric part of the synaptic learning window is essential for temporal-order learning. To test these predictions, we suggest experiments that selectively alter phase precession or the learning window and evaluate memory of temporal order.
Code and data are now available at https://gitlab.com/e.reifenstein/synaptic-learning-rules-for-sequence-learning
- Richard Kempter
- Richard Kempter
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Martin Vinck, Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Germany
© 2021, Reifenstein 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.
Understanding neuronal representations of odor-evoked activities and their progressive transformation from the sensory level to higher brain centers features one of the major aims in olfactory neuroscience. Here, we investigated how odor information is transformed and represented in higher-order neurons of the lateral horn, one of the higher olfactory centers implicated in determining innate behavior, using Drosophila melanogaster. We focused on a subset of third-order glutamatergic lateral horn neurons (LHNs) and characterized their odor coding properties in relation to their presynaptic partner neurons, the projection neurons (PNs) by two-photon functional imaging. We show that odors evoke reproducible, stereotypic, and odor-specific response patterns in LHNs. Notably, odor-evoked responses in these neurons are valence-specific in a way that their response amplitude is positively correlated with innate odor preferences. We postulate that this valence-specific activity is the result of integrating inputs from multiple olfactory channels through second-order neurons. GRASP and micro-lesioning experiments provide evidence that glutamatergic LHNs obtain their major excitatory input from uniglomerular PNs, while they receive an odor-specific inhibition through inhibitory multiglomerular PNs. In summary, our study indicates that odor representations in glutamatergic LHNs encode hedonic valence and odor identity and primarily retain the odor coding properties of second-order neurons.
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