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44 Publications

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    05/04/17 | Ring attractor dynamics in the Drosophila central brain.
    Kim SS, Rouault H, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 May 04;356(6340):849-53. doi: 10.1126/science.aal4835

    Ring attractors are a class of recurrent networks hypothesized to underlie the representation of heading direction. Such network structures, schematized as a ring of neurons whose connectivity depends on their heading preferences, can sustain a bump-like activity pattern whose location can be updated by continuous shifts along either turn direction. We recently reported that a population of fly neurons represents the animal's heading via bump-like activity dynamics. We combined two-photon calcium imaging in head-fixed flying flies with optogenetics to overwrite the existing population representation with an artificial one, which was then maintained by the circuit with naturalistic dynamics. A network with local excitation and global inhibition enforces this unique and persistent heading representation. Ring attractor networks have long been invoked in theoretical work; our study provides physiological evidence of their existence and functional architecture.

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    Ji LabJayaraman LabSvoboda Lab
    02/27/17 | Video-rate volumetric functional imaging of the brain at synaptic resolution.
    Lu R, Sun W, Liang Y, Kerlin A, Bierfeld J, Seelig JD, Wilson DE, Scholl B, Mohar B, Tanimoto M, Koyama M, Fitzpatrick D, Orger MB, Ji N
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Feb 27;20(4):620-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.4516

    Neurons and neural networks often extend hundreds of micrometers in three dimensions. Capturing the calcium transients associated with their activity requires volume imaging methods with subsecond temporal resolution. Such speed is a challenge for conventional two-photon laser-scanning microscopy, because it depends on serial focal scanning in 3D and indicators with limited brightness. Here we present an optical module that is easily integrated into standard two-photon laser-scanning microscopes to generate an axially elongated Bessel focus, which when scanned in 2D turns frame rate into volume rate. We demonstrated the power of this approach in enabling discoveries for neurobiology by imaging the calcium dynamics of volumes of neurons and synapses in fruit flies, zebrafish larvae, mice and ferrets in vivo. Calcium signals in objects as small as dendritic spines could be resolved at video rates, provided that the samples were sparsely labeled to limit overlap in their axially projected images.

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    06/06/16 | The insect central complex.
    Turner-Evans DB, Jayaraman V
    Current Biology : CB. 2016 Jun 06;26(11):R453-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.006

    Hordes of tourists flock to Washington, D.C. every spring to see the cherry trees blossom. Once in the city, they must find their way to the Tidal Basin where the Japanese trees grow. Fortunately, a number of visual landmarks can help them to navigate. In 1910, the United States Congress passed The Height of Buildings Act, limiting the elevation of commercial and residential structures in D.C. to 130 feet. Thus, the 555-foot-tall Washington Monument often looms large against the horizon, serving as an anchor point to help set the tourists' sense of direction. Once their heading is set, they can lose sight of the monument behind buildings or groups of tall Scandinavian visitors and still use their internal compass to navigate to the Basin. This compass keeps track of their paces and turns and updates their sense of where they are and where they need to go. Yet while their heading informs their actions, it does not dictate them. Tourists who have been to D.C. in the past can, for example, use remembered views to alter their routes to avoid crowds. On an even finer scale, their leg movements also depend on their current state - they might increase the frequency and length of their strides if hunger pangs compete with their desire to see cherry blossoms, for example. The way in which these disparate cues and motivations influence exploration is a neuroscience mystery across creatures large and small.

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    03/24/16 | Sensitive red protein calcium indicators for imaging neural activity.
    Dana H, Mohar B, Sun Y, Narayan S, Gordus A, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Holt GT, Hu A, Walpita D, Patel R, Macklin JJ, Bargmann CI, Ahrens MB, Schreiter ER, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    eLife. 2016 Mar 24;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12727

    Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) allow measurement of activity in large populations of neurons and in small neuronal compartments, over times of milliseconds to months. Although GFP-based GECIs are widely used for in vivo neurophysiology, GECIs with red-shifted excitation and emission spectra have advantages for in vivo imaging because of reduced scattering and absorption in tissue, and a consequent reduction in phototoxicity. However, current red GECIs are inferior to the state-of-the-art GFP-based GCaMP6 indicators for detecting and quantifying neural activity. Here we present improved red GECIs based on mRuby (jRCaMP1a, b) and mApple (jRGECO1a), with sensitivity comparable to GCaMP6. We characterized the performance of the new red GECIs in cultured neurons and in mouse, Drosophila, zebrafish and C. elegans in vivo. Red GECIs facilitate deep-tissue imaging, dual-color imaging together with GFP-based reporters, and the use of optogenetics in combination with calcium imaging.

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    01/28/16 | Studying small brains to understand the building blocks of cognition.
    Haberkern H, Jayaraman V
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Jan 28;37:59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.01.007

    Cognition encompasses a range of higher-order mental processes, such as attention, working memory, and model-based decision-making. These processes are thought to involve the dynamic interaction of multiple central brain regions. A mechanistic understanding of such computations requires not only monitoring and manipulating specific neural populations during behavior, but also knowing the connectivity of the underlying circuitry. These goals are experimentally challenging in mammals, but are feasible in numerically simpler insect brains. In Drosophila melanogaster in particular, genetic tools enable precisely targeted physiology and optogenetics in actively behaving animals. In this article we discuss how these advantages are increasingly being leveraged to study abstract neural representations and sensorimotor computations that may be relevant for cognition in both insects and mammals.

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    Jayaraman LabBaker Lab
    09/21/15 | Central neural circuitry mediating courtship song perception in male Drosophila.
    Zhou C, Franconville R, Vaughan AG, Robinett CC, Jayaraman V, Baker BS
    eLife. 2015 Sep 21;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.08477

    Animals use acoustic signals across a variety of social behaviors, particularly courtship. In Drosophila, song is detected by antennal mechanosensory neurons and further processed by second-order aPN1/aLN(al) neurons. However, little is known about the central pathways mediating courtship hearing. In this study, we identified a male-specific pathway for courtship hearing via third-order ventrolateral protocerebrum Projection Neuron 1 (vPN1) neurons and fourth-order pC1 neurons. Genetic inactivation of vPN1 or pC1 disrupts song-induced male-chaining behavior. Calcium imaging reveals that vPN1 responds preferentially to pulse song with long inter-pulse intervals (IPIs), while pC1 responses to pulse song closely match the behavioral chaining responses at different IPIs. Moreover, genetic activation of either vPN1 or pC1 induced courtship chaining, mimicking the behavioral response to song. These results outline the aPN1-vPN1-pC1 pathway as a labeled line for the processing and transformation of courtship song in males.

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    06/16/15 | Dynamical feature extraction at the sensory periphery guides chemotaxis.
    Schulze A, Gomez-Marin A, Rajendran VG, Lott G, Musy M, Ahammad P, Deogade A, Sharpe J, Riedl J, Jarriault D, Trautman ET, Werner C, Venkadesan M, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V, Louis M
    eLife. 2015 Jun 16;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.06694

    Behavioral strategies employed for chemotaxis have been described across phyla, but the sensorimotor basis of this phenomenon has seldom been studied in naturalistic contexts. Here, we examine how signals experienced during free olfactory behaviors are processed by first-order olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) of the Drosophila larva. We find that OSNs can act as differentiators that transiently normalize stimulus intensity-a property potentially derived from a combination of integral feedback and feed-forward regulation of olfactory transduction. In olfactory virtual reality experiments, we report that high activity levels of the OSN suppress turning, whereas low activity levels facilitate turning. Using a generalized linear model, we explain how peripheral encoding of olfactory stimuli modulates the probability of switching from a run to a turn. Our work clarifies the link between computations carried out at the sensory periphery and action selection underlying navigation in odor gradients.

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    05/14/15 | Neural dynamics for landmark orientation and angular path integration.
    Seelig JD, Jayaraman V
    Nature. 2015 May 14;521:186-191. doi: 10.1038/nature14446

    Many animals navigate using a combination of visual landmarks and path integration. In mammalian brains, head direction cells integrate these two streams of information by representing an animal's heading relative to landmarks, yet maintaining their directional tuning in darkness based on self-motion cues. Here we use two-photon calcium imaging in head-fixed Drosophila melanogaster walking on a ball in a virtual reality arena to demonstrate that landmark-based orientation and angular path integration are combined in the population responses of neurons whose dendrites tile the ellipsoid body, a toroidal structure in the centre of the fly brain. The neural population encodes the fly's azimuth relative to its environment, tracking visual landmarks when available and relying on self-motion cues in darkness. When both visual and self-motion cues are absent, a representation of the animal's orientation is maintained in this network through persistent activity, a potential substrate for short-term memory. Several features of the population dynamics of these neurons and their circular anatomical arrangement are suggestive of ring attractors, network structures that have been proposed to support the function of navigational brain circuits.

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    02/13/15 | Labeling of active neural circuits in vivo with designed calcium integrators.
    Fosque BF, Sun Y, Dana H, Yang C, Ohyama T, Tadross MR, Patel R, Zlatic M, Kim DS, Ahrens MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Schreiter ER
    Science. 2015 Feb 13;347(6223):755-60. doi: 10.1126/science.1260922

    The identification of active neurons and circuits in vivo is a fundamental challenge in understanding the neural basis of behavior. Genetically encoded calcium (Ca(2+)) indicators (GECIs) enable quantitative monitoring of cellular-resolution activity during behavior. However, such indicators require online monitoring within a limited field of view. Alternatively, post hoc staining of immediate early genes (IEGs) indicates highly active cells within the entire brain, albeit with poor temporal resolution. We designed a fluorescent sensor, CaMPARI, that combines the genetic targetability and quantitative link to neural activity of GECIs with the permanent, large-scale labeling of IEGs, allowing a temporally precise "activity snapshot" of a large tissue volume. CaMPARI undergoes efficient and irreversible green-to-red conversion only when elevated intracellular Ca(2+) and experimenter-controlled illumination coincide. We demonstrate the utility of CaMPARI in freely moving larvae of zebrafish and flies, and in head-fixed mice and adult flies.

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    02/09/14 | Independent optical excitation of distinct neural populations.
    Klapoetke NC, Murata Y, Kim SS, Pulver SR, Birdsey-Benson A, Cho YK, Morimoto TK, Chuong AS, Carpenter EJ, Tian Z, Wang J, Xie Y, Yan Z, Zhang Y, Chow BY, Surek B, Melkonian M, Jayaraman V, Constantine-Paton M, Wong GK, Boyden ES
    Nature Methods. 2014 Feb 9;11:338-46. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2836

    Optogenetic tools enable examination of how specific cell types contribute to brain circuit functions. A long-standing question is whether it is possible to independently activate two distinct neural populations in mammalian brain tissue. Such a capability would enable the study of how different synapses or pathways interact to encode information in the brain. Here we describe two channelrhodopsins, Chronos and Chrimson, discovered through sequencing and physiological characterization of opsins from over 100 species of alga. Chrimson’s excitation spectrum is red shifted by 45 nm relative to previous channelrhodopsins and can enable experiments in which red light is preferred. We show minimal visual system-mediated behavioral interference when using Chrimson in neurobehavioral studies in Drosophila melanogaster. Chronos has faster kinetics than previous channelrhodopsins yet is effectively more light sensitive. Together these two reagents enable two-color activation of neural spiking and downstream synaptic transmission in independent neural populations without detectable cross-talk in mouse brain slice.

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