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Fitzgerald Lab / Publications
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14 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 14 results
10/31/18 | The neuronal basis of an illusory motion percept is explained by decorrelation of parallel motion pathways.
Salazar-Gatzimas E, Agrochao M, Fitzgerald JE, Clark DA
Current Biology : CB. 2018 Oct 31;28(23):3748-78. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.10.007

Both vertebrates and invertebrates perceive illusory motion, known as "reverse-phi," in visual stimuli that contain sequential luminance increments and decrements. However, increment (ON) and decrement (OFF) signals are initially processed by separate visual neurons, and parallel elementary motion detectors downstream respond selectively to the motion of light or dark edges, often termed ON- and OFF-edges. It remains unknown how and where ON and OFF signals combine to generate reverse-phi motion signals. Here, we show that each of Drosophila's elementary motion detectors encodes motion by combining both ON and OFF signals. Their pattern of responses reflects combinations of increments and decrements that co-occur in natural motion, serving to decorrelate their outputs. These results suggest that the general principle of signal decorrelation drives the functional specialization of parallel motion detection channels, including their selectivity for moving light or dark edges.

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10/25/18 | Long-Term Consolidation of Ensemble Neural Plasticity Patterns in Hippocampal Area CA1.
Attardo A, Lu J, Kawashima T, Okuno H, Fitzgerald JE, Bito H, Schnitzer MJ
Cell reports. 2018 Oct 16;25(3):640-650.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.09.064

Neural network remodeling underpins the ability to remember life experiences, but little is known about the long-term plasticity of neural populations. To study how the brain encodes episodic events, we used time-lapse two-photon microscopy and a fluorescent reporter of neural plasticity based on an enhanced form of the synaptic activity-responsive element (E-SARE) within the Arc promoter to track thousands of CA1 hippocampal pyramidal cells over weeks in mice that repeatedly encountered different environments. Each environment evokes characteristic patterns of ensemble neural plasticity, but with each encounter, the set of activated cells gradually evolves. After repeated exposures, the plasticity patterns evoked by an individual environment progressively stabilize. Compared with young adults, plasticity patterns in aged mice are less specific to individual environments and less stable across repeat experiences. Long-term consolidation of hippocampal plasticity patterns may support long-term memory formation, whereas weaker consolidation in aged subjects might reflect declining memory function.

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11/03/16 | From Whole-Brain Data to Functional Circuit Models: The Zebrafish Optomotor Response.
Naumann EA, Fitzgerald JE, Dunn TW, Rihel J, Sompolinsky H, Engert F
Cell. 2016 11 03;167(4):947-960.e20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.10.019

Detailed descriptions of brain-scale sensorimotor circuits underlying vertebrate behavior remain elusive. Recent advances in zebrafish neuroscience offer new opportunities to dissect such circuits via whole-brain imaging, behavioral analysis, functional perturbations, and network modeling. Here, we harness these tools to generate a brain-scale circuit model of the optomotor response, an orienting behavior evoked by visual motion. We show that such motion is processed by diverse neural response types distributed across multiple brain regions. To transform sensory input into action, these regions sequentially integrate eye- and direction-specific sensory streams, refine representations via interhemispheric inhibition, and demix locomotor instructions to independently drive turning and forward swimming. While experiments revealed many neural response types throughout the brain, modeling identified the dimensions of functional connectivity most critical for the behavior. We thus reveal how distributed neurons collaborate to generate behavior and illustrate a paradigm for distilling functional circuit models from whole-brain data.

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10/24/15 | Nonlinear circuits for naturalistic visual motion estimation.
Fitzgerald JE, Clark DA
eLife. 2015 Oct 24;4:e09123. doi: 10.7554/eLife.09123

Many animals use visual signals to estimate motion. Canonical models suppose that animals estimate motion by cross-correlating pairs of spatiotemporally separated visual signals, but recent experiments indicate that humans and flies perceive motion from higher-order correlations that signify motion in natural environments. Here we show how biologically plausible processing motifs in neural circuits could be tuned to extract this information. We emphasize how known aspects of Drosophila's visual circuitry could embody this tuning and predict fly behavior. We find that segregating motion signals into ON/OFF channels can enhance estimation accuracy by accounting for natural light/dark asymmetries. Furthermore, a diversity of inputs to motion detecting neurons can provide access to more complex higher-order correlations. Collectively, these results illustrate how non-canonical computations improve motion estimation with naturalistic inputs. This argues that the complexity of the fly's motion computations, implemented in its elaborate circuits, represents a valuable feature of its visual motion estimator.

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09/14/15 | Whole-brain activity mapping onto a zebrafish brain atlas.
Randlett O, Wee CL, Naumann EA, Nnaemeka O, Schoppik D, Fitzgerald JE, Portugues R, Lacoste AM, Riegler C, Engert F, Schier AF
Nature methods. 2015 Nov;12(11):1039-46. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3581

In order to localize the neural circuits involved in generating behaviors, it is necessary to assign activity onto anatomical maps of the nervous system. Using brain registration across hundreds of larval zebrafish, we have built an expandable open-source atlas containing molecular labels and definitions of anatomical regions, the Z-Brain. Using this platform and immunohistochemical detection of phosphorylated extracellular signal–regulated kinase (ERK) as a readout of neural activity, we have developed a system to create and contextualize whole-brain maps of stimulus- and behavior-dependent neural activity. This mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP)-mapping assay is technically simple, and data analysis is completely automated. Because MAP-mapping is performed on freely swimming fish, it is applicable to studies of nearly any stimulus or behavior. Here we demonstrate our high-throughput approach using pharmacological, visual and noxious stimuli, as well as hunting and feeding. The resultant maps outline hundreds of areas associated with behaviors.

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06/15/15 | Impermanence of dendritic spines in live adult CA1 hippocampus.
Attardo A, Fitzgerald JE, Schnitzer MJ
Nature. 2015 Jul 30;523(7562):592-6. doi: 10.1038/nature14467

The mammalian hippocampus is crucial for episodic memory formation and transiently retains information for about 3-4 weeks in adult mice and longer in humans. Although neuroscientists widely believe that neural synapses are elemental sites of information storage, there has been no direct evidence that hippocampal synapses persist for time intervals commensurate with the duration of hippocampal-dependent memory. Here we tested the prediction that the lifetimes of hippocampal synapses match the longevity of hippocampal memory. By using time-lapse two-photon microendoscopy in the CA1 hippocampal area of live mice, we monitored the turnover dynamics of the pyramidal neurons' basal dendritic spines, postsynaptic structures whose turnover dynamics are thought to reflect those of excitatory synaptic connections. Strikingly, CA1 spine turnover dynamics differed sharply from those seen previously in the neocortex. Mathematical modelling revealed that the data best matched kinetic models with a single population of spines with a mean lifetime of approximately 1-2 weeks. This implies ∼100% turnover in ∼2-3 times this interval, a near full erasure of the synaptic connectivity pattern. Although N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockade stabilizes spines in the neocortex, in CA1 it transiently increased the rate of spine loss and thus lowered spine density. These results reveal that adult neocortical and hippocampal pyramidal neurons have divergent patterns of spine regulation and quantitatively support the idea that the transience of hippocampal-dependent memory directly reflects the turnover dynamics of hippocampal synapses.

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01/05/14 | Flies and humans share a motion estimation strategy that exploits natural scene statistics.
Clark DA, Fitzgerald JE, Ales JM, Gohl DM, Silies MA, Norcia AM, Clandinin TR
Nature neuroscience. 2014 Feb;17(2):296-303. doi: 10.1038/nn.3600

Sighted animals extract motion information from visual scenes by processing spatiotemporal patterns of light falling on the retina. The dominant models for motion estimation exploit intensity correlations only between pairs of points in space and time. Moving natural scenes, however, contain more complex correlations. We found that fly and human visual systems encode the combined direction and contrast polarity of moving edges using triple correlations that enhance motion estimation in natural environments. Both species extracted triple correlations with neural substrates tuned for light or dark edges, and sensitivity to specific triple correlations was retained even as light and dark edge motion signals were combined. Thus, both species separately process light and dark image contrasts to capture motion signatures that can improve estimation accuracy. This convergence argues that statistical structures in natural scenes have greatly affected visual processing, driving a common computational strategy over 500 million years of evolution.

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01/08/13 | Photon shot noise limits on optical detection of neuronal spikes and estimation of spike timing.
Wilt BA, Fitzgerald JE, Schnitzer MJ
Biophysical journal. 2013 Jan 08;104(1):51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.07.058

Optical approaches for tracking neural dynamics are of widespread interest, but a theoretical framework quantifying the physical limits of these techniques has been lacking. We formulate such a framework by using signal detection and estimation theory to obtain physical bounds on the detection of neural spikes and the estimation of their occurrence times as set by photon counting statistics (shot noise). These bounds are succinctly expressed via a discriminability index that depends on the kinetics of the optical indicator and the relative fluxes of signal and background photons. This approach facilitates quantitative evaluations of different indicators, detector technologies, and data analyses. Our treatment also provides optimal filtering techniques for optical detection of spikes. We compare various types of Ca(2+) indicators and show that background photons are a chief impediment to voltage sensing. Thus, voltage indicators that change color in response to membrane depolarization may offer a key advantage over those that change intensity. We also examine fluorescence resonance energy transfer indicators and identify the regimes in which the widely used ratiometric analysis of signals is substantially suboptimal. Overall, by showing how different optical factors interact to affect signal quality, our treatment offers a valuable guide to experimental design and provides measures of confidence to assess optically extracted traces of neural activity.

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07/12/12 | Estimation theoretic measure of resolution for stochastic localization microscopy.
Fitzgerald JE, Lu J, Schnitzer MJ
Physical review letters. 2012 Jul 27;109(4):048102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.048102

One approach to super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, termed stochastic localization microscopy, relies on the nanometer scale spatial localization of individual fluorescent emitters that stochastically label specific features of the specimen. The precision of emitter localization is an important determinant of the resulting image resolution but is insufficient to specify how well the derived images capture the structure of the specimen. We address this deficiency by considering the inference of specimen structure based on the estimated emitter locations. By using estimation theory, we develop a measure of spatial resolution that jointly depends on the density of the emitter labels, the precision of emitter localization, and prior information regarding the spatial frequency content of the labeled object. The Nyquist criterion does not set the scaling of this measure with emitter number. Given prior information and a fixed emitter labeling density, our resolution measure asymptotes to a finite value as the precision of emitter localization improves. By considering the present experimental capabilities, this asymptotic behavior implies that further resolution improvements require increases in labeling density above typical current values. Our treatment also yields algorithms to enhance reliable image features. Overall, our formalism facilitates the rigorous statistical interpretation of the data produced by stochastic localization imaging techniques.

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08/02/11 | Symmetries in stimulus statistics shape the form of visual motion estimators.
Fitzgerald JE, Katsov AY, Clandinin TR, Schnitzer MJ
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Aug 02;108(31):12909-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015680108

The estimation of visual motion has long been studied as a paradigmatic neural computation, and multiple models have been advanced to explain behavioral and neural responses to motion signals. A broad class of models, originating with the Reichardt correlator model, proposes that animals estimate motion by computing a temporal cross-correlation of light intensities from two neighboring points in visual space. These models provide a good description of experimental data in specific contexts but cannot explain motion percepts in stimuli lacking pairwise correlations. Here, we develop a theoretical formalism that can accommodate diverse stimuli and behavioral goals. To achieve this, we treat motion estimation as a problem of Bayesian inference. Pairwise models emerge as one component of the generalized strategy for motion estimation. However, correlation functions beyond second order enable more accurate motion estimation. Prior expectations that are asymmetric with respect to bright and dark contrast use correlations of both even and odd orders, and we show that psychophysical experiments using visual stimuli with symmetric probability distributions for contrast cannot reveal whether the subject uses odd-order correlators for motion estimation. This result highlights a gap in previous experiments, which have largely relied on symmetric contrast distributions. Our theoretical treatment provides a natural interpretation of many visual motion percepts, indicates that motion estimation should be revisited using a broader class of stimuli, demonstrates how correlation-based motion estimation is related to stimulus statistics, and provides multiple experimentally testable predictions.

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