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130 Publications

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabGENIE
    01/01/14 | Thy1 - GCaMP6 transgenic mice for neuronal population imaging in vivo.
    Dana H, Chen T, Hu A, Shields BC, Cui G, Looger L, Kim DS, Svoboda K
    PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e108697. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108697

    Genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) facilitate imaging activity of genetically defined neuronal populations in vivo. The high intracellular GECI concentrations required for in vivo imaging are usually achieved by viral gene transfer using adeno-associated viruses. Transgenic expression of GECIs promises important advantages, including homogeneous, repeatable, and stable expression without the need for invasive virus injections. Here we present the generation and characterization of transgenic mice expressing the GECIs GCaMP6s or GCaMP6f under the Thy1 promoter. We quantified GCaMP6 expression across brain regions and neurons and compared to other transgenic mice and AAV-mediated expression. We tested three mouse lines for imaging in the visual cortex in vivo and compared their performance to mice injected with AAV expressing GCaMP6. Furthermore, we show that GCaMP6 Thy1 transgenic mice are useful for long-term, high-sensitivity imaging in behaving mice.

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    Looger LabAhrens LabFreeman LabSvoboda Lab
    07/27/14 | Mapping brain activity at scale with cluster computing.
    Freeman J, Vladimirov N, Kawashima T, Mu Y, Sofroniew NJ, Bennett DV, Rosen J, Yang C, Looger LL, Ahrens MB
    Nature Methods. 2014 Jul 27;11(9):941-950. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3041

    Understanding brain function requires monitoring and interpreting the activity of large networks of neurons during behavior. Advances in recording technology are greatly increasing the size and complexity of neural data. Analyzing such data will pose a fundamental bottleneck for neuroscience. We present a library of analytical tools called Thunder built on the open-source Apache Spark platform for large-scale distributed computing. The library implements a variety of univariate and multivariate analyses with a modular, extendable structure well-suited to interactive exploration and analysis development. We demonstrate how these analyses find structure in large-scale neural data, including whole-brain light-sheet imaging data from fictively behaving larval zebrafish, and two-photon imaging data from behaving mouse. The analyses relate neuronal responses to sensory input and behavior, run in minutes or less and can be used on a private cluster or in the cloud. Our open-source framework thus holds promise for turning brain activity mapping efforts into biological insights.

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    Lee (Albert) LabSvoboda Lab
    07/16/14 | Natural whisker-guided behavior by head-fixed mice in tactile virtual reality.
    Sofroniew NJ, Cohen JD, Lee AK, Svoboda K
    Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Jul 16;34(29):9537-50. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0712-14.2014

    During many natural behaviors the relevant sensory stimuli and motor outputs are difficult to quantify. Furthermore, the high dimensionality of the space of possible stimuli and movements compounds the problem of experimental control. Head fixation facilitates stimulus control and movement tracking, and can be combined with techniques for recording and manipulating neural activity. However, head-fixed mouse behaviors are typically trained through extensive instrumental conditioning. Here we present a whisker-based, tactile virtual reality system for head-fixed mice running on a spherical treadmill. Head-fixed mice displayed natural movements, including running and rhythmic whisking at 16 Hz. Whisking was centered on a set point that changed in concert with running so that more protracted whisking was correlated with faster running. During turning, whiskers moved in an asymmetric manner, with more retracted whisker positions in the turn direction and protracted whisker movements on the other side. Under some conditions, whisker movements were phase-coupled to strides. We simulated a virtual reality tactile corridor, consisting of two moveable walls controlled in a closed-loop by running speed and direction. Mice used their whiskers to track the walls of the winding corridor without training. Whisker curvature changes, which cause forces in the sensory follicles at the base of the whiskers, were tightly coupled to distance from the walls. Our behavioral system allows for precise control of sensorimotor variables during natural tactile navigation.

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    Svoboda Lab
    04/23/14 | Structural plasticity within the barrel cortex during initial phases of whisker-dependent learning.
    Kuhlman SJ, O’Connor DH, Fox K, Svoboda K
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2014 Apr 23;34(17):6078-83. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4919-12.2014

    We report learning-related structural plasticity in layer 1 branches of pyramidal neurons in the barrel cortex, a known site of sensorimotor integration. In mice learning an active, whisker-dependent object localization task, layer 2/3 neurons showed enhanced spine growth during initial skill acquisition that both preceded and predicted expert performance. Preexisting spines were stabilized and new persistent spines were formed. These findings suggest rapid changes in connectivity between motor centers and sensory cortex guide subsequent sensorimotor learning.

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    Svoboda Lab
    01/08/14 | Flow of cortical activity underlying a tactile decision in mice.
    Guo ZV, Li N, Huber D, Ophir E, Gutnisky D, Ting JT, Feng G, Svoboda K
    Neuron. 2014 Jan 8;81:179-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.10.020

    Perceptual decisions involve distributed cortical activity. Does information flow sequentially from one cortical area to another, or do networks of interconnected areas contribute at the same time? Here we delineate when and how activity in specific areas drives a whisker-based decision in mice. A short-term memory component temporally separated tactile "sensation" and "action" (licking). Using optogenetic inhibition (spatial resolution, 2 mm; temporal resolution, 100 ms), we surveyed the neocortex for regions driving behavior during specific behavioral epochs. Barrel cortex was critical for sensation. During the short-term memory, unilateral inhibition of anterior lateral motor cortex biased responses to the ipsilateral side. Consistently, barrel cortex showed stimulus-specific activity during sensation, whereas motor cortex showed choice-specific preparatory activity and movement-related activity, consistent with roles in motor planning and movement. These results suggest serial information flow from sensory to motor areas during perceptual decision making.

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    Svoboda Lab
    01/01/14 | Procedures for behavioral experiments in head-fixed mice.
    Guo ZV, Hires SA, Li N, O’Connor DH, Komiyama T, Ophir E, Huber D, Bonardi C, Morandell K, Gutnisky D, Peron S, Xu N, Cox J, Svoboda K
    PLoS One. 2014;9:e88678. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088678

    The mouse is an increasingly prominent model for the analysis of mammalian neuronal circuits. Neural circuits ultimately have to be probed during behaviors that engage the circuits. Linking circuit dynamics to behavior requires precise control of sensory stimuli and measurement of body movements. Head-fixation has been used for behavioral research, particularly in non-human primates, to facilitate precise stimulus control, behavioral monitoring and neural recording. However, choice-based, perceptual decision tasks by head-fixed mice have only recently been introduced. Training mice relies on motivating mice using water restriction. Here we describe procedures for head-fixation, water restriction and behavioral training for head-fixed mice, with a focus on active, whisker-based tactile behaviors. In these experiments mice had restricted access to water (typically 1 ml/day). After ten days of water restriction, body weight stabilized at approximately 80% of initial weight. At that point mice were trained to discriminate sensory stimuli using operant conditioning. Head-fixed mice reported stimuli by licking in go/no-go tasks and also using a forced choice paradigm using a dual lickport. In some cases mice learned to discriminate sensory stimuli in a few trials within the first behavioral session. Delay epochs lasting a second or more were used to separate sensation (e.g. tactile exploration) and action (i.e. licking). Mice performed a variety of perceptual decision tasks with high performance for hundreds of trials per behavioral session. Up to four months of continuous water restriction showed no adverse health effects. Behavioral performance correlated with the degree of water restriction, supporting the importance of controlling access to water. These behavioral paradigms can be combined with cellular resolution imaging, random access photostimulation, and whole cell recordings.

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    Svoboda Lab
    11/19/13 | Tapered whiskers are required for active tactile sensation.
    Hires SA, Pammer L, Svoboda K, Golomb D
    eLife. 2013 Nov 19;2:e01350. doi: 10.7554/eLife.01350

    Many mammals forage and burrow in dark constrained spaces. Touch through facial whiskers is important during these activities, but the close quarters makes whisker deployment challenging. The diverse shapes of facial whiskers reflect distinct ecological niches. Rodent whiskers are conical, often with a remarkably linear taper. Here we use theoretical and experimental methods to analyze interactions of mouse whiskers with objects. When pushed into objects, conical whiskers suddenly slip at a critical angle. In contrast, cylindrical whiskers do not slip for biologically plausible movements. Conical whiskers sweep across objects and textures in characteristic sequences of brief sticks and slips, which provide information about the tactile world. In contrast, cylindrical whiskers stick and remain stuck, even when sweeping across fine textures. Thus the conical whisker structure is adaptive for sensor mobility in constrained environments and in feature extraction during active haptic exploration of objects and surfaces. DOI:

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    Svoboda LabHarris LabFetter Lab
    11/12/13 | Thalamocortical input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons measured using quantitative large-scale array tomography.
    Rah J, Bas E, Colonell J, Mishchenko Y, Karsh B, Fetter RD, Myers EW, Chklovskii DB, Svoboda K, Harris TD, Isaac JT
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2013;7:177. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00177

    The subcellular locations of synapses on pyramidal neurons strongly influences dendritic integration and synaptic plasticity. Despite this, there is little quantitative data on spatial distributions of specific types of synaptic input. Here we use array tomography (AT), a high-resolution optical microscopy method, to examine thalamocortical (TC) input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We first verified the ability of AT to identify synapses using parallel electron microscopic analysis of TC synapses in layer 4. We then use large-scale array tomography (LSAT) to measure TC synapse distribution on L5 pyramidal neurons in a 1.00 × 0.83 × 0.21 mm(3) volume of mouse somatosensory cortex. We found that TC synapses primarily target basal dendrites in layer 5, but also make a considerable input to proximal apical dendrites in L4, consistent with previous work. Our analysis further suggests that TC inputs are biased toward certain branches and, within branches, synapses show significant clustering with an excess of TC synapse nearest neighbors within 5-15 μm compared to a random distribution. Thus, we show that AT is a sensitive and quantitative method to map specific types of synaptic input on the dendrites of entire neurons. We anticipate that this technique will be of wide utility for mapping functionally-relevant anatomical connectivity in neural circuits.

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    Svoboda Lab
    10/30/13 | Distinct balance of excitation and inhibition in an interareal feedforward and feedback circuit of mouse visual cortex.
    Yang W, Carrasquillo Y, Hooks BM, Nerbonne JM, Burkhalter A
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Oct 30;33(44):17373-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2515-13.2013

    Mouse visual cortex is subdivided into multiple distinct, hierarchically organized areas that are interconnected through feedforward (FF) and feedback (FB) pathways. The principal synaptic targets of FF and FB axons that reciprocally interconnect primary visual cortex (V1) with the higher lateromedial extrastriate area (LM) are pyramidal cells (Pyr) and parvalbumin (PV)-expressing GABAergic interneurons. Recordings in slices of mouse visual cortex have shown that layer 2/3 Pyr cells receive excitatory monosynaptic FF and FB inputs, which are opposed by disynaptic inhibition. Most notably, inhibition is stronger in the FF than FB pathway, suggesting pathway-specific organization of feedforward inhibition (FFI). To explore the hypothesis that this difference is due to diverse pathway-specific strengths of the inputs to PV neurons we have performed subcellular Channelrhodopsin-2-assisted circuit mapping in slices of mouse visual cortex. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were obtained from retrobead-labeled FFV1→LM- and FBLM→V1-projecting Pyr cells, as well as from tdTomato-expressing PV neurons. The results show that the FFV1→LM pathway provides on average 3.7-fold stronger depolarizing input to layer 2/3 inhibitory PV neurons than to neighboring excitatory Pyr cells. In the FBLM→V1 pathway, depolarizing inputs to layer 2/3 PV neurons and Pyr cells were balanced. Balanced inputs were also found in the FFV1→LM pathway to layer 5 PV neurons and Pyr cells, whereas FBLM→V1 inputs to layer 5 were biased toward Pyr cells. The findings indicate that FFI in FFV1→LM and FBLM→V1 circuits are organized in a pathway- and lamina-specific fashion.

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    10/14/13 | A neuron-based screening platform for optimizing genetically-encoded calcium indicators.
    Wardill TJ, Chen T, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Fosque BF, Behnam R, Shields BC, Ramirez M, Kimmel BE, Kerr RA, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    PLoS One. 2013;8:e77728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077728

    Fluorescent protein-based sensors for detecting neuronal activity have been developed largely based on non-neuronal screening systems. However, the dynamics of neuronal state variables (e.g., voltage, calcium, etc.) are typically very rapid compared to those of non-excitable cells. We developed an electrical stimulation and fluorescence imaging platform based on dissociated rat primary neuronal cultures. We describe its use in testing genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs). Efficient neuronal GECI expression was achieved using lentiviruses containing a neuronal-selective gene promoter. Action potentials (APs) and thus neuronal calcium levels were quantitatively controlled by electrical field stimulation, and fluorescence images were recorded. Images were segmented to extract fluorescence signals corresponding to individual GECI-expressing neurons, which improved sensitivity over full-field measurements. We demonstrate the superiority of screening GECIs in neurons compared with solution measurements. Neuronal screening was useful for efficient identification of variants with both improved response kinetics and high signal amplitudes. This platform can be used to screen many types of sensors with cellular resolution under realistic conditions where neuronal state variables are in relevant ranges with respect to timing and amplitude.

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