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16 Publications

Showing 1-10 of 16 results
05/26/21 | An Accumulation-of-Evidence Task Using Visual Pulses for Mice Navigating in Virtual Reality
Pinto L, Koay SA, Engelhard B, Yoon AM, Deverett B, Thiberge SY, Witten IB, Tank DW, Brody CD
Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Jun-03-2018;12:. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00036

The gradual accumulation of sensory evidence is a crucial component of perceptual decision making, but its neural mechanisms are still poorly understood. Given the wide availability of genetic and optical tools for mice, they can be useful model organisms for the study of these phenomena; however, behavioral tools are largely lacking. Here, we describe a new evidence-accumulation task for head-fixed mice navigating in a virtual reality (VR) environment. As they navigate down the stem of a virtual T-maze, they see brief pulses of visual evidence on either side, and retrieve a reward on the arm with the highest number of pulses. The pulses occur randomly with Poisson statistics, yielding a diverse yet well-controlled stimulus set, making the data conducive to a variety of computational approaches. A large number of mice of different genotypes were able to learn and consistently perform the task, at levels similar to rats in analogous tasks. They are sensitive to side differences of a single pulse, and their memory of the cues is stable over time. Moreover, using non-parametric as well as modeling approaches, we show that the mice indeed accumulate evidence: they use multiple pulses of evidence from throughout the cue region of the maze to make their decision, albeit with a small overweighting of earlier cues, and their performance is affected by the magnitude but not the duration of evidence. Additionally, analysis of the mice's running patterns revealed that trajectories are fairly stereotyped yet modulated by the amount of sensory evidence, suggesting that the navigational component of this task may provide a continuous readout correlated to the underlying cognitive variables. Our task, which can be readily integrated with state-of-the-art techniques, is thus a valuable tool to study the circuit mechanisms and dynamics underlying perceptual decision making, particularly under more complex behavioral contexts.

 
 
 

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10/13/19 | Sequential and efficient neural-population coding of complex task information
Koay SA, Thiberge SY, Brody CD, Tank DW
bioRxiv. 10/2019:. doi: 10.1101/801654

Recent work has highlighted that many types of variables are represented in each neocortical area. How can these many neural representations be organized together without interference, and coherently maintained/updated through time? We recorded from large neural populations in posterior cortices as mice performed a complex, dynamic task involving multiple interrelated variables. The neural encoding implied that correlated task variables were represented by uncorrelated modes in an information-coding subspace. We show via theory that this can enable optimal decoding directions to be insensitive to neural noise levels. Across posterior cortex, principles of efficient coding thus applied to task-specific information, with neural-population modes as the encoding unit. Remarkably, this encoding function was multiplexed with rapidly changing, sequential neural dynamics, yet reliably followed slow changes in task-variable correlations through time. We can explain this as due to a mathematical property of high-dimensional spaces that the brain might exploit as a temporal scaffold.

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05/29/19 | Specialized coding of sensory, motor and cognitive variables in VTA dopamine neurons
Engelhard B, Finkelstein J, Cox J, Fleming W, Jang HJ, Ornelas S, Koay SA, Thiberge SY, Daw ND, Tank DW, Witten IB
Nature. 05/2019;570(7762):509 - 513. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1261-9

There is increased appreciation that dopamine neurons in the midbrain respond not only to reward1 and reward-predicting cues1,2, but also to other variables such as the distance to reward3, movements4,5,6,7,8,9 and behavioural choices10,11. An important question is how the responses to these diverse variables are organized across the population of dopamine neurons. Whether individual dopamine neurons multiplex several variables, or whether there are subsets of neurons that are specialized in encoding specific behavioural variables remains unclear. This fundamental question has been difficult to resolve because recordings from large populations of individual dopamine neurons have not been performed in a behavioural task with sufficient complexity to examine these diverse variables simultaneously. Here, to address this gap, we used two-photon calcium imaging through an implanted lens to record the activity of more than 300 dopamine neurons from the ventral tegmental area of the mouse midbrain during a complex decision-making task. As mice navigated in a virtual-reality environment, dopamine neurons encoded an array of sensory, motor and cognitive variables. These responses were functionally clustered, such that subpopulations of neurons transmitted information about a subset of behavioural variables, in addition to encoding reward. These functional clusters were spatially organized, with neighbouring neurons more likely to be part of the same cluster. Together with the topography between dopamine neurons and their projections, this specialization and anatomical organization may aid downstream circuits in correctly interpreting the wide range of signals transmitted by dopamine neurons.

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Studies of perceptual decision-making have often assumed that the main role of sensory cortices is to provide sensory input to downstream processes that accumulate and drive behavioral decisions. We performed a systematic comparison of neural activity in primary visual (V1) to secondary visual and retrosplenial cortices, as mice performed a task where they should accumulate pulsatile visual cues through time to inform a navigational decision. Even in V1, only a small fraction of neurons had sensory-like responses to cues. Instead, in all areas neurons were sequentially active, and contained information ranging from sensory to cognitive, including cue timings, evidence, place/time, decision and reward outcome. Per-cue sensory responses were amplitude-modulated by various cognitive quantities, notably accumulated evidence. This inspired a multiplicative feedback-loop circuit hypothesis that proposes a more intricate role of sensory areas in the accumulation process, and furthermore explains a surprising observation that perceptual discrimination deviates from Weber-Fechner Law.Highlights / eTOC BlurbMice made navigational decisions based on accumulating pulsatile visual cuesThe bulk of neural activity in visual cortices was sequential and beyond-sensoryAccumulated pulse-counts modulated sensory (cue) responses, suggesting feedbackA feedback-loop neural circuit explains behavioral deviations from Weber’s LawHighlights / eTOC BlurbIn a task where navigation was informed by accumulated pulsatile visual evidence, neural activity in visual cortices predominantly coded for cognitive variables across multiple timescales, including outside of a visual processing context. Even sensory responses to visual pulses were amplitude-modulated by accumulated pulse counts and other variables, inspiring a multiplicative feedback-loop circuit hypothesis that in turn explained behavioral deviations from Weber-Fechner Law.

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01/17/19 | CaImAn an open source tool for scalable calcium imaging data analysis
Giovannucci A, Friedrich J, Gunn P, Kalfon J, Brown BL, Koay SA, Taxidis J, Najafi F, Gauthier JL, Zhou P, Khakh BS, Tank DW, Chklovskii DB, Pnevmatikakis EA
eLife. 01/2019;8:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.38173

Advances in fluorescence microscopy enable monitoring larger brain areas in-vivo with finer time resolution. The resulting data rates require reproducible analysis pipelines that are reliable, fully automated, and scalable to datasets generated over the course of months. We present CaImAn, an open-source library for calcium imaging data analysis. CaImAn provides automatic and scalable methods to address problems common to pre-processing, including motion correction, neural activity identification, and registration across different sessions of data collection. It does this while requiring minimal user intervention, with good scalability on computers ranging from laptops to high-performance computing clusters. CaImAn is suitable for two-photon and one-photon imaging, and also enables real-time analysis on streaming data. To benchmark the performance of CaImAn we collected and combined a corpus of manual annotations from multiple labelers on nine mouse two-photon datasets. We demonstrate that CaImAn achieves near-human performance in detecting locations of active neurons

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01/01/19 | Neural Correlates of Cognition in Primary Visual versus Downstream Posterior Cortices During Evidence Accumulation
Koay SA, Tank D, Brody C
APS March Meeting Abstracts. 01/2019:

The ability of animals to accumulate sensory information across time is fundamental to decision-making. Using a mouse behavioral paradigm where navigational decisions are based on accumulating pulses of visual cues, I compared neural activity in primary visual (V1) to secondary visual and retrosplenial cortices. Even in V1, only a small fraction of neurons had sensory-like responses to cues. Instead, all areas were grossly similar in how neural populations contained a large variety of task-related information from sensory to cognitive, including cue timings, accumulated counts, place/time, decision and reward outcome. Across-trial influences were prevalent, possibly relevant to how animal behavior incorporates past contexts. Intriguingly, all these variables also modulated the amplitudes of sensory responses. While previous work often modeled the accumulation process as integration, the observed scaling of sensory responses by accumulated counts instead suggests a recursive process where sensory responses are gradually amplified. I show that such a multiplicative feedback-loop algorithm better explains psychophysical data than integration, particularly in how the performance transitions into following Weber-Fechner's Law only at high counts.

 

 

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11/19/18 | Detecting and Correcting False Transients in Calcium Imaging
Gauthier JL, Koay SA, Nieh EH, Tank DW, Pillow JW, Charles AS
bioRxiv. 11/2018:. doi: 10.1101/473470

Population recordings of calcium activity are a major source of insight into neural function. Large dataset sizes often require automated methods, but automation can introduce errors that are difficult to detect. Here we show that automatic time course estimation can sometimes lead to significant misattribution errors, in which fluorescence is ascribed to the wrong cell. Misattribution arises when the shapes of overlapping cells are imperfectly defined, or when entire cells or processes are not identified, and misattribution can even be produced by methods specifically designed to handle overlap. To diagnose this problem, we develop a transient-by-transient metric and a visualization tool that allow users to quickly assess the degree of misattribution in large populations. To filter out misattribution, we also design a robust estimator that explicitly accounts for contaminating signals in a generative model. Our methods can be combined with essentially any cell finding technique, empowering users to diagnose and correct at large scale a problem that has the potential to significantly alter scientific conclusions.

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10/29/18 | Specialized and spatially organized coding of sensory, motor, and cognitive variables in midbrain dopamine neurons
Engelhard B, Finkelstein J, Cox J, Fleming W, Jang HJ, Ornelas S, Koay SA, Thiberge S, Daw N, Tank DW, Witten IB
bioRxiv. 10/2018:. doi: 10.1101/456194

There is increased appreciation that dopamine (DA) neurons in the midbrain respond not only to reward 1,2 and reward-predicting cues 1,3,4, but also to other variables such as distance to reward 5, movements 6–11 and behavioral choices 12–15. Based on these findings, a major open question is how the responses to these diverse variables are organized across the population of DA neurons. In other words, do individual DA neurons multiplex multiple variables, or are subsets of neurons specialized in encoding specific behavioral variables? The reason that this fundamental question has been difficult to resolve is that recordings from large populations of individual DA neurons have not been performed in a behavioral task with sufficient complexity to examine these diverse variables simultaneously. To address this gap, we used 2-photon calcium imaging through an implanted lens to record activity of >300 midbrain DA neurons in the VTA during a complex decision-making task. As mice navigated in a virtual reality (VR) environment, DA neurons encoded an array of sensory, motor, and cognitive variables. These responses were functionally clustered, such that subpopulations of neurons transmitted information about a subset of behavioral variables, in addition to encoding reward. These functional clusters were spatially organized, such that neighboring neurons were more likely to be part of the same cluster. Taken together with the topography between DA neurons and their projections, this specialization and anatomical organization may aid downstream circuits in correctly interpreting the wide range of signals transmitted by DA neurons.

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08/13/18 | Cerebellar involvement in an evidence-accumulation decision-making task
Deverett B, Koay SA, Oostland M, Wang SS
eLife. 08/2018;7:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.36781

To make successful evidence-based decisions, the brain must rapidly and accurately transform sensory inputs into specific goal-directed behaviors. Most experimental work on this subject has focused on forebrain mechanisms. Using a novel evidence-accumulation task for mice, we performed recording and perturbation studies of crus I of the lateral posterior cerebellum, which communicates bidirectionally with numerous forebrain regions. Cerebellar inactivation led to a reduction in the fraction of correct trials. Using two-photon fluorescence imaging of calcium, we found that Purkinje cell somatic activity contained choice/evidence-related information. Decision errors were represented by dendritic calcium spikes, which in other contexts are known to drive cerebellar plasticity. We propose that cerebellar circuitry may contribute to computations that support accurate performance in this perceptual decision-making task.

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06/11/18 | A cerebellar role in evidence-guided decision-making
Deverett B, Koay SA, Oostland M, Wang SS
bioRxiv. 06/2018:. doi: 10.1101/343095

To make successful evidence-based decisions, the brain must rapidly and accurately transform sensory inputs into specific goal-directed behaviors. Most experimental work on this subject has focused on forebrain mechanisms. Here we show that during perceptual decision-making over a period of seconds, decision-, sensory-, and error-related information converge on the lateral posterior cerebellum in crus I, a structure that communicates bidirectionally with numerous forebrain regions. We trained mice on a novel evidence-accumulation task and demonstrated that cerebellar inactivation reduces behavioral accuracy without impairing motor parameters of action. Using two-photon calcium imaging, we found that Purkinje cell somatic activity encoded choice- and evidence-related variables. Decision errors were represented by dendritic calcium spikes, which are known to drive plasticity. We propose that cerebellar circuitry may contribute to the set of distributed computations in the brain that support accurate perceptual decision-making.

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