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134 Publications

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    Svoboda Lab
    05/03/16 | Flow of information underlying a tactile decision in mice.
    Li N, Guo ZV, Chen T, Svoboda K
    Micro-, Meso- and Macro-Dynamics of the Brain:. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-28802-4_3

    Motor planning allows us to conceive, plan, and initiate skilled motor behaviors. Motor planning involves activity distributed widely across the cortex. How this activity dynamically comes together to guide movement remains an unsolved problem. We study motor planning in mice performing a tactile decision behavior. Head-fixed mice discriminate object locations with their whiskers and report their choice by directional licking (“lick left”/“lick right”). A short-term memory component separates tactile “sensation” and “action” into distinct epochs. Using loss-of-function experiments, cell-type specific electrophysiology, and cellular imaging, we delineate when and how activity in specific brain areas and cell types drives motor planning in mice. Our results suggest that information flows serially from sensory to motor areas during motor planning. The motor cortex circuit maintains the motor plan during short-term memory and translates the motor plan into motor commands that drive the upcoming directional licking.

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    Svoboda LabDruckmann Lab
    04/13/16 | Robust neuronal dynamics in premotor cortex during motor planning.
    Li N, Daie K, Svoboda K, Druckmann S
    Nature. 2016 Apr 13:. doi: 10.1038/nature17643

    Neural activity maintains representations that bridge past and future events, often over many seconds. Network models can produce persistent and ramping activity, but the positive feedback that is critical for these slow dynamics can cause sensitivity to perturbations. Here we use electrophysiology and optogenetic perturbations in the mouse premotor cortex to probe the robustness of persistent neural representations during motor planning. We show that preparatory activity is remarkably robust to large-scale unilateral silencing: detailed neural dynamics that drive specific future movements were quickly and selectively restored by the network. Selectivity did not recover after bilateral silencing of the premotor cortex. Perturbations to one hemisphere are thus corrected by information from the other hemisphere. Corpus callosum bisections demonstrated that premotor cortex hemispheres can maintain preparatory activity independently. Redundancy across selectively coupled modules, as we observed in the premotor cortex, is a hallmark of robust control systems. Network models incorporating these principles show robustness that is consistent with data.

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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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    01/20/16 | A platform for brain-wide imaging and reconstruction of individual neurons.
    Economo MN, Clack NG, Lavis LD, Gerfen CR, Svoboda K, Myers EW, Chandrashekar J
    eLife. 2016 Jan 20;5:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10566

    The structure of axonal arbors controls how signals from individual neurons are routed within the mammalian brain. However, the arbors of very few long-range projection neurons have been reconstructed in their entirety, as axons with diameters as small as 100 nm arborize in target regions dispersed over many millimeters of tissue. We introduce a platform for high-resolution, three-dimensional fluorescence imaging of complete tissue volumes that enables the visualization and reconstruction of long-range axonal arbors. This platform relies on a high-speed two-photon microscope integrated with a tissue vibratome and a suite of computational tools for large-scale image data. We demonstrate the power of this approach by reconstructing the axonal arbors of multiple neurons in the motor cortex across a single mouse brain.

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    Svoboda LabFreeman Lab
    12/23/15 | Neural coding in barrel cortex during whisker-guided locomotion.
    Sofroniew NJ, Vlasov YA, Andrew Hires S, Freeman J, Svoboda K
    eLife. 2015 Dec 23;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.12559

    Animals seek out relevant information by moving through a dynamic world, but sensory systems are usually studied under highly constrained and passive conditions that may not probe important dimensions of the neural code. Here, we explored neural coding in the barrel cortex of head-fixed mice that tracked walls with their whiskers in tactile virtual reality. Optogenetic manipulations revealed that barrel cortex plays a role in wall-tracking. Closed-loop optogenetic control of layer 4 neurons can substitute for whisker-object contact to guide behavior resembling wall tracking. We measured neural activity using two-photon calcium imaging and extracellular recordings. Neurons were tuned to the distance between the animal snout and the contralateral wall, with monotonic, unimodal, and multimodal tuning curves. This rich representation of object location in the barrel cortex could not be predicted based on simple stimulus-response relationships involving individual whiskers and likely emerges within cortical circuits.

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    12/03/15 | Cortex commands the performance of skilled movement.
    Guo J, Graves AR, Guo WW, Zheng J, Lee A, Rodríguez-González J, Li N, Macklin JJ, Phillips JW, Mensh BD, Branson K, Hantman AW
    eLife. 2015 Dec 3;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10774

    Mammalian cerebral cortex is accepted as being critical for voluntary motor control, but what functions depend on cortex is still unclear. Here we used rapid, reversible optogenetic inhibition to test the role of cortex during a head-fixed task in which mice reach, grab, and eat a food pellet. Sudden cortical inhibition blocked initiation or froze execution of this skilled prehension behavior, but left untrained forelimb movements unaffected. Unexpectedly, kinematically normal prehension occurred immediately after cortical inhibition even during rest periods lacking cue and pellet. This 'rebound' prehension was only evoked in trained and food-deprived animals, suggesting that a motivation-gated motor engram sufficient to evoke prehension is activated at inhibition's end. These results demonstrate the necessity and sufficiency of cortical activity for enacting a learned skill.

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    Svoboda Lab
    11/18/15 | Neurodata without borders: creating a common data format for neurophysiology
    Teeters JL, Godfrey K, Young R, Dang C, Friedsam C, Wark B, Asari H, Peron S, Li N, Peyrache A
    Neuron. 2015 Nov 18;88(4):629-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.10.025

    The Neurodata Without Borders (NWB) initiative promotes data standardization in neuroscience to increase research reproducibility and opportunities. In the first NWB pilot project, neurophysiologists and software developers produced a common data format for recordings and metadata of cellular electrophysiology and optical imaging experiments. The format specification, application programming interfaces, and sample datasets have been released.

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    Svoboda Lab
    08/06/15 | Low-noise encoding of active touch by layer 4 in the somatosensory cortex.
    Andrew Hires S, Gutnisky DA, Yu J, O'Connor DH, Svoboda K
    eLife. 2015 Aug 6;4:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.06619

    Cortical spike trains often appear noisy, with the timing and number of spikes varying across repetitions of stimuli. Spiking variability can arise from internal (behavioral state, unreliable neurons, or chaotic dynamics in neural circuits) and external (uncontrolled behavior or sensory stimuli) sources. The amount of irreducible internal noise in spike trains, an important constraint on models of cortical networks, has been difficult to estimate, since behavior and brain state must be precisely controlled or tracked. We recorded from excitatory barrel cortex neurons in layer 4 during active behavior, where mice control tactile input through learned whisker movements. Touch was the dominant sensorimotor feature, with >70% spikes occurring in millisecond timescale epochs after touch onset. The variance of touch responses was smaller than expected from Poisson processes, often reaching the theoretical minimum. Layer 4 spike trains thus reflect the millisecond-timescale structure of tactile input with little noise.

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    04/21/15 | A cellular resolution map of barrel cortex activity during tactile behavior.
    Peron SP, Freeman J, Iyer V, Guo C, Svoboda K
    Neuron. 2015 Apr 21;86(3):783-99. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.03.027

    Comprehensive measurement of neural activity remains challenging due to the large numbers of neurons in each brain area. We used volumetric two-photon imaging in mice expressing GCaMP6s and nuclear red fluorescent proteins to sample activity in 75% of superficial barrel cortex neurons across the relevant cortical columns, approximately 12,000 neurons per animal, during performance of a single whisker object localization task. Task-related activity peaked during object palpation. An encoding model related activity to behavioral variables. In the column corresponding to the spared whisker, 300 layer (L) 2/3 pyramidal neurons (17%) each encoded touch and whisker movements. Touch representation declined by half in surrounding columns; whisker movement representation was unchanged. Following the emergence of stereotyped task-related movement, sensory representations showed no measurable plasticity. Touch direction was topographically organized, with distinct organization for passive and active touch. Our work reveals sparse and spatially intermingled representations of multiple tactile features.

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    Svoboda Lab
    04/10/15 | Comprehensive imaging of cortical networks.
    Peron S, Chen T, Svoboda K
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2015 Apr 10;32:115-123. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2015.03.016

    Neural computations are implemented by activity in spatially distributed neural circuits. Cellular imaging fills a unique niche in linking activity of specific types of neurons to behavior, over spatial scales spanning single neurons to entire brain regions, and temporal scales from milliseconds to months. Imaging may soon make it possible to track activity of all neurons in a brain region, such as a cortical column. We review recent methodological advances that facilitate optical imaging of neuronal populations in vivo, with an emphasis on calcium imaging using protein indicators in mice. We point out areas that are particularly ripe for future developments.

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