Inhibitory interneurons are believed to realize critical gating functions in cortical circuits, but it has been difficult to ascertain the content of gated information for well characterized interneurons in primate cortex. Here, we address this question by characterizing putative interneurons in primate prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex while monkeys engaged in attention demanding reversal learning. We find that subclasses of narrow spiking neurons have a relative suppressive effect on the local circuit indicating they are inhibitory interneurons. One of these interneuron subclasses showed prominent firing rate modulations and (35-45 Hz) gamma synchronous spiking during periods of uncertainty in both, lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). In LPFC this interneuron subclass activated when the uncertainty of attention cues was resolved during flexible learning, whereas in ACC it fired and gamma-synchronized when outcomes were uncertain and prediction errors were high during learning. Computational modeling of this interneuron-specific gamma band activity in simple circuit motifs suggests it could reflect a soft winner-take-all gating of information having high degree of uncertainty. Together, these findings elucidate an electrophysiologically-characterized interneuron subclass in the primate, that forms gamma synchronous networks in two different areas when resolving uncertainty during adaptive goal-directed behavior.
Source neural data and matlab scripts for reproducing the main figures with the data are included in the manuscript as supporting files Source Data 1, 2, and 3.
- Thilo Womelsdorf
- Thilo Womelsdorf
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All animal care and experimental protocols were approved by the York University Council on Animal Care (ethics protocol 2015-15-R2) and were in accordance with the Canadian Council on Animal Care guidelines.
- Saskia Haegens, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, United States
© 2021, Banaie Boroujeni 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.