Naturally occurring body movements and collective neural activity both exhibit complex dynamics, often with scale-free, fractal spatiotemporal structure. Scale-free dynamics of both brain and behavior are important because each is associated with functional benefits to the organism. Despite their similarities, scale-free brain activity and scale-free behavior have been studied separately, without a unified explanation. Here we show that scale-free dynamics of mouse behavior and neurons in visual cortex are strongly related. Surprisingly, the scale-free neural activity is limited to specific subsets of neurons, and these scale-free subsets exhibit stochastic winner-take-all competition with other neural subsets. This observation is inconsistent with prevailing theories of scale-free dynamics in neural systems, which stem from the criticality hypothesis. We develop a computational model which incorporates known cell-type-specific circuit structure, explaining our findings with a new type of critical dynamics. Our results establish neural underpinnings of scale-free behavior and clear behavioral relevance of scale-free neural activity.
The data analyzed here were first published in Stringer et al. (2019) and are publicly available on Figshare at Stringer, Carsen; Pachitariu, Marius; Reddy, Charu; Carandini, Matteo; Harris, Kenneth D. (2018): Recordings of ten thousand neurons in visual cortex during spontaneous behaviors. Janelia Research Campus. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.25378/janelia.6163622.v6. Analysis and simulation codes are publicly available on Figshare https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.21954389.v1
Code for computational model, power law fitting, power law range [Shew Lab]https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.21954389.v1.
- Woodrow L Shew
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 procedures were conducted according to the UK Animals Scientific Procedures Act (1986). Experiments were performed at University College London under personal and project licenses released by the Home Office following appropriate ethics review.
- Gordon J Berman, Emory University, United States
© 2023, Jones 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.
Postsynaptic mitochondria are critical for the development, plasticity, and maintenance of synaptic inputs. However, their relationship to synaptic structure and functional activity is unknown. We examined a correlative dataset from ferret visual cortex with in vivo two-photon calcium imaging of dendritic spines during visual stimulation and electron microscopy reconstructions of spine ultrastructure, investigating mitochondrial abundance near functionally and structurally characterized spines. Surprisingly, we found no correlation to structural measures of synaptic strength. Instead, we found that mitochondria are positioned near spines with orientation preferences that are dissimilar to the somatic preference. Additionally, we found that mitochondria are positioned near groups of spines with heterogeneous orientation preferences. For a subset of spines with a mitochondrion in the head or neck, synapses were larger and exhibited greater selectivity to visual stimuli than those without a mitochondrion. Our data suggest mitochondria are not necessarily positioned to support the energy needs of strong spines, but rather support the structurally and functionally diverse inputs innervating the basal dendrites of cortical neurons.
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.