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31 Publications

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    01/18/23 | Functional specialization and structured representations for space and time in prefrontal cortex
    Claudia Böhm , Albert K. Lee
    bioRxiv. 2023 Jan 18:. doi: 10.1101/2023.01.16.524214

    Individual neurons in prefrontal cortex – a key brain area involved in cognitive functions – are selective for variables such as space or time, as well as more cognitive aspects of tasks, such as learned categories. Many neurons exhibit mixed selectivity, that is, they show selectivity for multiple variables. A fundamental question is whether neurons are functionally specialized for particular variables and how selectivity for different variables intersects across the population. Here, we analyzed neural correlates of space and time in rats performing a navigational task with two behaviorally important categories – starts and goals. Using simultaneous recordings of many medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) neurons during behavior, we found that population codes for elapsed time were invariant to different locations within categories, and subsets of neurons had functional preferences for time or space across categories. Thus, mPFC exhibits structured selectivity, which may facilitate complex behaviors by efficiently generating informative representations of multiple variables.

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    01/01/23 | Hippocampal spatial representations exhibit a hyperbolic geometry that expands with experience.
    Zhang H, Rich PD, Lee AK, Sharpee TO
    Nature Neuroscience. 2023 Jan 01;26(1):131-139. doi: 10.1038/s41593-022-01212-4

    Daily experience suggests that we perceive distances near us linearly. However, the actual geometry of spatial representation in the brain is unknown. Here we report that neurons in the CA1 region of rat hippocampus that mediate spatial perception represent space according to a non-linear hyperbolic geometry. This geometry uses an exponential scale and yields greater positional information than a linear scale. We found that the size of the representation matches the optimal predictions for the number of CA1 neurons. The representations also dynamically expanded proportional to the logarithm of time that the animal spent exploring the environment, in correspondence with the maximal mutual information that can be received. The dynamic changes tracked even small variations due to changes in the running speed of the animal. These results demonstrate how neural circuits achieve efficient representations using dynamic hyperbolic geometry.

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    11/10/22 | Robotic Multi-Probe-Single-Actuator Inchworm Neural Microdrive
    Smith R, Kolb I, Tanaka S, Lee A, Harris T, Barbic M
    eLife. 2022 Nov 10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.71876

    Electrophysiology is one of the major experimental techniques used in neuroscience. The favorable spatial and temporal resolution as well as the increasingly larger site counts of brain recording electrodes contribute to the popularity and importance of electrophysiology in neuroscience. Such electrodes are typically mechanically placed in the brain to perform acute or chronic freely moving animal measurements. The micro positioners currently used for such tasks employ a single translator per independent probe being placed into the targeted brain region, leading to significant size and weight restrictions. To overcome this limitation, we have developed a miniature robotic multi-probe neural microdrive that utilizes novel phase-change-material-filled resistive heater micro-grippers. The microscopic dimensions, gentle gripping action, independent electronic actuation control, and high packing density of the grippers allow for micrometer-precision independent positioning of multiple arbitrarily shaped parallel neural electrodes with only a single piezo actuator in an inchworm motor configuration. This multi-probe-single-actuator design allows for significant size and weight reduction, as well as remote control and potential automation of the microdrive. We demonstrate accurate placement of multiple independent recording electrodes into the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus in vivo in acute and chronic settings. Thus, our robotic neural microdrive technology is applicable towards basic neuroscience and clinical studies, as well as other multi-probe or multi-sensor micro-positioning applications.

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    04/16/21 | Neuropixels 2.0: A miniaturized high-density probe for stable, long-term brain recordings.
    Steinmetz NA, Aydın Ç, Lebedeva A, Okun M, Pachitariu M, Bauza M, Beau M, Bhagat J, Böhm C, Broux M, Chen S, Colonell J, Gardner RJ, Karsh B, Kloosterman F, Kostadinov D, Mora-Lopez C, O'Callaghan J, Park J, Putzeys J, Sauerbrei B, van Daal RJ, Vollan AZ, Wang S, Welkenhuysen M, Ye Z, Dudman JT, Dutta B, Hantman AW, Harris KD, Lee AK, Moser EI, O'Keefe J, Renart A, Svoboda K, Häusser M, Haesler S, Carandini M, Harris TD
    Science. 2021 Apr 16;372(6539):. doi: 10.1126/science.abf4588

    Measuring the dynamics of neural processing across time scales requires following the spiking of thousands of individual neurons over milliseconds and months. To address this need, we introduce the Neuropixels 2.0 probe together with newly designed analysis algorithms. The probe has more than 5000 sites and is miniaturized to facilitate chronic implants in small mammals and recording during unrestrained behavior. High-quality recordings over long time scales were reliably obtained in mice and rats in six laboratories. Improved site density and arrangement combined with newly created data processing methods enable automatic post hoc correction for brain movements, allowing recording from the same neurons for more than 2 months. These probes and algorithms enable stable recordings from thousands of sites during free behavior, even in small animals such as mice.

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    The prefrontal cortex (PFC)'s functions are thought to include working memory, as its activity can reflect information that must be temporarily maintained to realize the current goal. We designed a flexible spatial working memory task that required rats to navigate - after distractions and a delay - to multiple possible goal locations from different starting points and via multiple routes. This made the current goal location the key variable to remember, instead of a particular direction or route to the goal. However, across a broad population of PFC neurons, we found no evidence of current-goal-specific memory in any previously reported form - that is differences in the rate, sequence, phase, or covariance of firing. This suggests that such patterns do not hold working memory in the PFC when information must be employed flexibly. Instead, the PFC grouped locations representing behaviorally equivalent task features together, consistent with a role in encoding long-term knowledge of task structure.

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    The prefrontal cortex (PFC)'s functions are thought to include working memory, as its activity can reflect information that must be temporarily maintained to realize the current goal. We designed a flexible spatial working memory task that required rats to navigate - after distractions and a delay - to multiple possible goal locations from different starting points and via multiple routes. This made the current goal location the key variable to remember, instead of a particular direction or route to the goal. However, across a broad population of PFC neurons, we found no evidence of current-goal-specific memory in any previously reported form - that is differences in the rate, sequence, phase, or covariance of firing. This suggests that such patterns do not hold working memory in the PFC when information must be employed flexibly. Instead, the PFC grouped locations representing behaviorally equivalent task features together, consistent with a role in encoding long-term knowledge of task structure.

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    12/07/20 | The claustrum.
    Smith JB, Lee AK, Jackson J
    Current Biology. 2020 Dec 07;30(23):R1401-R1406. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.09.069

    The claustrum is a brain region that has been investigated for over 200 years, yet its precise function remains unknown. In the final posthumously released article of Francis Crick, written with Christof Koch, the claustrum was suggested to be critically linked to consciousness. Though the claustrum remained relatively obscure throughout the last half century, it has enjoyed a renewed interest in the last 15 years since Crick and Koch's article. During this time, the claustrum, like many other brain regions, has been studied with the myriad of modern systems neuroscience tools that have been made available by the intersection of genetic and viral technologies. This has uncovered new information about its anatomical connectivity and physiological properties and begun to reveal aspects of its function. From these studies, one clear consensus has emerged which supports Crick and Koch's primary interest in the claustrum: the claustrum has widespread extensive connectivity with the entire cerebral cortex, suggesting a prominent role in 'higher order processes'.

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    10/29/20 | The Statistical Structure of the Hippocampal Code for Space as a Function of Time, Context, and Value.
    Lee JS, Briguglio JJ, Cohen JD, Romani S, Lee AK
    Cell. 2020 Oct 29;183(3):620-35. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.09.024

    Hippocampal activity represents many behaviorally important variables, including context, an animal's location within a given environmental context, time, and reward. Using longitudinal calcium imaging in mice, multiple large virtual environments, and differing reward contingencies, we derived a unified probabilistic model of CA1 representations centered on a single feature-the field propensity. Each cell's propensity governs how many place fields it has per unit space, predicts its reward-related activity, and is preserved across distinct environments and over months. Propensity is broadly distributed-with many low, and some very high, propensity cells-and thus strongly shapes hippocampal representations. This results in a range of spatial codes, from sparse to dense. Propensity varied ∼10-fold between adjacent cells in salt-and-pepper fashion, indicating substantial functional differences within a presumed cell type. Intracellular recordings linked propensity to cell excitability. The stability of each cell's propensity across conditions suggests this fundamental property has anatomical, transcriptional, and/or developmental origins.

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    07/01/20 | The anatomy and physiology of claustrum-cortex interactions.
    Jackson J, Smith JB, Lee AK
    Annual Review of Neuroscience. 2020 Jul 1;43:231-47. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-092519-101637

    The claustrum is one of the most widely connected regions of the forebrain, yet its function has remained obscure, largely due to the experimentally challenging nature of targeting this small, thin, and elongated brain area. However, recent advances in molecular techniques have enabled the anatomy and physiology of the claustrum to be studied with the spatiotemporal and cell type-specific precision required to eventually converge on what this area does. Here we review early anatomical and electrophysiological results from cats and primates, as well as recent work in the rodent, identifying the connectivity, cell types, and physiological circuit mechanisms underlying the communication between the claustrum and the cortex. The emerging picture is one in which the rodent claustrum is closely tied to frontal/limbic regions and plays a role in processes, such as attention, that are associated with these areas. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 43 is July 8, 2020. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

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    04/01/19 | Multimodal in vivo brain electrophysiology with integrated glass microelectrodes.
    Hunt DL, Lai C, Smith RD, Lee AK, Harris TD, Barbic M
    Nature Biomedical Engineering. 2019 Apr 01;3(9):741-53. doi: 10.1038/s41551-019-0373-8

    Electrophysiology is the most used approach for the collection of functional data in basic and translational neuroscience, but it is typically limited to either intracellular or extracellular recordings. The integration of multiple physiological modalities for the routine acquisition of multimodal data with microelectrodes could be useful for biomedical applications, yet this has been challenging owing to incompatibilities of fabrication methods. Here, we present a suite of glass pipettes with integrated microelectrodes for the simultaneous acquisition of multimodal intracellular and extracellular information in vivo, electrochemistry assessments, and optogenetic perturbations of neural activity. We used the integrated devices to acquire multimodal signals from the CA1 region of the hippocampus in mice and rats, and show that these data can serve as ground-truth validation for the performance of spike-sorting algorithms. The microdevices are applicable for basic and translational neurobiology, and for the development of next-generation brain-machine interfaces.

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