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44 Publications

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    05/02/16 | Opponent and bidirectional control of movement velocity in the basal ganglia.
    Yttri EA, Dudman JT
    Nature. 2016 May 2:. doi: 10.1038/nature17639

    For goal-directed behaviour it is critical that we can both select the appropriate action and learn to modify the underlying movements (for example, the pitch of a note or velocity of a reach) to improve outcomes. The basal ganglia are a critical nexus where circuits necessary for the production of behaviour, such as the neocortex and thalamus, are integrated with reward signalling to reinforce successful, purposive actions. The dorsal striatum, a major input structure of basal ganglia, is composed of two opponent pathways, direct and indirect, thought to select actions that elicit positive outcomes and suppress actions that do not, respectively. Activity-dependent plasticity modulated by reward is thought to be sufficient for selecting actions in the striatum. Although perturbations of basal ganglia function produce profound changes in movement, it remains unknown whether activity-dependent plasticity is sufficient to produce learned changes in movement kinematics, such as velocity. Here we use cell-type-specific stimulation in mice delivered in closed loop during movement to demonstrate that activity in either the direct or indirect pathway is sufficient to produce specific and sustained increases or decreases in velocity, without affecting action selection or motivation. These behavioural changes were a form of learning that accumulated over trials, persisted after the cessation of stimulation, and were abolished in the presence of dopamine antagonists. Our results reveal that the direct and indirect pathways can each bidirectionally control movement velocity, demonstrating unprecedented specificity and flexibility in the control of volition by the basal ganglia.

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    03/21/16 | The basal ganglia: from motor commands to the control of vigor.
    Dudman JT, Krakauer JW
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2016 Mar 21;37:158-66. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.02.005

    Vertebrates are remarkable for their ability to select and execute goal-directed actions: motor skills critical for thriving in complex, competitive environments. A key aspect of a motor skill is the ability to execute its component movements over a range of speeds, amplitudes and frequencies (vigor). Recent work has indicated that a subcortical circuit, the basal ganglia, is a critical determinant of movement vigor in rodents and primates. We propose that the basal ganglia evolved from a circuit that in lower vertebrates and some mammals is sufficient to directly command simple or stereotyped movements to one that indirectly controls the vigor of goal-directed movements. The implications of a dual role of the basal ganglia in the control of vigor and response to reward are also discussed.

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    11/01/15 | Minimally invasive microendoscopy system for in vivo functional imaging of deep nuclei in the mouse brain.
    Bocarsly ME, Jiang W, Wang C, Dudman JT, Ji N, Aponte Y
    Biomedical Optics Express. 2015 Nov 1;6(11):4546-56. doi: 10.1364/BOE.6.004546

    The ability to image neurons anywhere in the mammalian brain is a major goal of optical microscopy. Here we describe a minimally invasive microendoscopy system for studying the morphology and function of neurons at depth. Utilizing a guide cannula with an ultrathin wall, we demonstrated in vivo two-photon fluorescence imaging of deeply buried nuclei such as the striatum (2.5 mm depth), substantia nigra (4.4 mm depth) and lateral hypothalamus (5.0 mm depth) in mouse brain. We reported, for the first time, the observation of neuronal activity with subcellular resolution in the lateral hypothalamus and substantia nigra of head-fixed awake mice.

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    09/10/15 | Dopamine is required for the neural representation and control of movement vigor.
    Panigrahi B, Martin KA, Li Y, Graves AR, Vollmer A, Olson L, Mensh BD, Karpova AY, Dudman JT
    Cell. 2015 Sep 10;162(6):1418-30. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.08.014

    Progressive depletion of midbrain dopamine neurons (PDD) is associated with deficits in the initiation, speed, and fluidity of voluntary movement. Models of basal ganglia function focus on initiation deficits; however, it is unclear how they account for deficits in the speed or amplitude of movement (vigor). Using an effort-based operant conditioning task for head-fixed mice, we discovered distinct functional classes of neurons in the dorsal striatum that represent movement vigor. Mice with PDD exhibited a progressive reduction in vigor, along with a selective impairment of its neural representation in striatum. Restoration of dopaminergic tone with a synthetic precursor ameliorated deficits in movement vigor and its neural representation, while suppression of striatal activity during movement was sufficient to reduce vigor. Thus, dopaminergic input to the dorsal striatum is indispensable for the emergence of striatal activity that mediates adaptive changes in movement vigor. These results suggest refined intervention strategies for Parkinson’s disease.

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    07/22/15 | A specific component of the evoked potential mirrors phasic dopamine neuron activity during conditioning.
    Pan W, Dudman JT
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2015 Jul 22;35(29):10451-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4096-14.2015

    UNLABELLED: Midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons are thought to be a critical node in the circuitry that mediates reward learning. DA neurons receive diverse inputs from regions distributed throughout the neuraxis from frontal neocortex to the mesencephalon. While a great deal is known about changes in the activity of individual DA neurons during learning, much less is known about the functional changes in the microcircuits in which DA neurons are embedded. Here we used local field potentials recorded from the midbrain of behaving mice to show that the midbrain evoked potential (mEP) faithfully reflects the temporal and spatial structure of the phasic response of midbrain neuron populations during conditioning. By comparing the mEP to simultaneously recorded single units, we identified specific components of the mEP that corresponded to phasic DA and non-DA responses to salient stimuli. The DA component of the mEP emerged with the acquisition of a conditioned stimulus, was extinguished following changes in reinforcement contingency, and could be inhibited by pharmacological manipulations that attenuate the phasic responses of DA neurons. In contrast to single-unit recordings, the mEP permitted relatively dense sampling of the midbrain circuit during conditioning and thus could be used to reveal the spatiotemporal structure of multiple intermingled midbrain circuits. Finally, the mEP response was stable for months and thus provides a new approach to study long-term changes in the organization of ventral midbrain microcircuits during learning.

    SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Neurons that synthesize and release the neurotransmitter dopamine play a critical role in voluntary reward-seeking behavior. Much of our insight into the function of dopamine neurons comes from recordings of individual cells in behaving animals; however, it is notoriously difficult to record from dopamine neurons due to their sparsity and depth, as well as the presence of intermingled non-dopaminergic neurons. Here we show that much of the information that can be learned from recordings of individual dopamine and non-dopamine neurons is also revealed by changes in specific components of the local field potential. This technique provides an accessible measurement that could prove critical to our burgeoning understanding of the molecular, functional, and anatomical diversity of neuron populations in the midbrain.

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    09/03/14 | The basal ganglia
    Dudman JT, Cerfan CR
    The Rat Nervous System:391-440. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-374245-2.00017-6

    The basal ganglia plays a significant role in transforming activity in the cerebral cortex into directed behavior, involving motor learning, habit formation and the selection of actions based on desirable outcomes, and the organization of the basal ganglia is intimately linked to that of the cerebral cortex. In this chapter, we focus primarily on the neocortical part of the basal ganglia. A general canonical organizational plan of the neocortical-related basal ganglia is described. An understanding of the canonical organization of the neostriatal part of the basal ganglia, provides a framework for determining the general organizational principles of the parts of the basal ganglia connected with allocortical areas and the amygdala, and this is discussed. While it has been proposed that the basal ganglia provide interactions between disparate functional circuits, another approach might be that there are parallel functional circuits, in which distinct functions are for the most part maintained, or segregated, one from the other. This chapter, however, is biased toward the view that there is maintenance of functional parallel circuits in the organization of the basal ganglia, but that the circuit contains neuroanatomical features that provide for considerable interaction between adjacent circuits.

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    07/18/14 | Precise spatial coding is preserved along the longitudinal hippocampal axis.
    Keinath AT, Wang ME, Wann EG, Yuan RK, Dudman JT, Muzzio IA
    Hippocampus. 2014 Jul 18;24(12):1-16. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22333

    Compared to the dorsal hippocampus, relatively few studies have characterized neuronal responses in the ventral hippocampus. In particular, it is unclear whether and how cells in the ventral region represent space and/or respond to contextual changes. We recorded from dorsal and ventral CA1 neurons in freely moving mice exposed to manipulations of visuospatial and olfactory contexts. We found that ventral cells respond to alterations of the visuospatial environment such as exposure to novel local cues, cue rotations, and contextual expansion in similar ways to dorsal cells, with the exception of cue rotations. Furthermore, we found that ventral cells responded to odors much more strongly than dorsal cells, particularly to odors of high valence. Similar to earlier studies recording from the ventral hippocampus in CA3, we also found increased scaling of place cell field size along the longitudinal hippocampal axis. Although the increase in place field size observed toward the ventral pole has previously been taken to suggest a decrease in spatial information coded by ventral place cells, we hypothesized that a change in spatial scaling could instead signal a shift in representational coding that preserves the resolution of spatial information. To explore this possibility, we examined population activity using principal component analysis (PCA) and neural location reconstruction techniques. Our results suggest that ventral populations encode a distributed representation of space, and that the resolution of spatial information at the population level is comparable to that of dorsal populations of similar size. Finally, through the use of neural network modeling, we suggest that the redundancy in spatial representation along the longitudinal hippocampal axis may allow the hippocampus to overcome the conflict between memory interference and generalization inherent in neural network memory. Our results suggest that ventral population activity is well suited for generalization across locations and contexts. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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    05/21/14 | The inhibitory microcircuit of the substantia nigra provides feedback gain control of the basal ganglia output.
    Brown J, Pan W, Dudman JT
    eLife. 2014 May 21;3:e02397. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02397

    Dysfunction of the basal ganglia produces severe deficits in the timing, initiation, and vigor of movement. These diverse impairments suggest a control system gone awry. In engineered systems, feedback is critical for control. By contrast, models of the basal ganglia highlight feedforward circuitry and ignore intrinsic feedback circuits. In this study, we show that feedback via axon collaterals of substantia nigra projection neurons control the gain of the basal ganglia output. Through a combination of physiology, optogenetics, anatomy, and circuit mapping, we elaborate a general circuit mechanism for gain control in a microcircuit lacking interneurons. Our data suggest that diverse tonic firing rates, weak unitary connections and a spatially diffuse collateral circuit with distinct topography and kinetics from feedforward input is sufficient to implement divisive feedback inhibition. The importance of feedback for engineered systems implies that the intranigral microcircuit, despite its absence from canonical models, could be essential to basal ganglia function. DOI:

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    02/14/14 | RIVETS: A mechanical system for in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology and imaging.
    Osborne JE, Dudman JT
    PLoS One. 2014 Feb 14;9(2):e89007. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089007

    A number of recent studies have provided compelling demonstrations that both mice and rats can be trained to perform a variety of behavioral tasks while restrained by mechanical elements mounted to the skull. The independent development of this technique by a number of laboratories has led to diverse solutions. We found that these solutions often used expensive materials and impeded future development and modification in the absence of engineering support. In order to address these issues, here we report on the development of a flexible single hardware design for electrophysiology and imaging both in brain tissue in vitro. Our hardware facilitates the rapid conversion of a single preparation between physiology and imaging system and the conversion of a given system between preparations. In addition, our use of rapid prototyping machines ("3D printers") allows for the deployment of new designs within a day. Here, we present specifications for design and manufacturing as well as some data from our lab demonstrating the suitability of the design for physiology in behaving animals and imaging in vitro and in vivo.

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    09/30/13 | Mice infer probabilistic models for timing.
    Li Y, Dudman JT
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Sep 30;110(42):17154-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1310666110

    Animals learn both whether and when a reward will occur. Neural models of timing posit that animals learn the mean time until reward perturbed by a fixed relative uncertainty. Nonetheless, animals can learn to perform actions for reward even in highly variable natural environments. Optimal inference in the presence of variable information requires probabilistic models, yet it is unclear whether animals can infer such models for reward timing. Here, we develop a behavioral paradigm in which optimal performance required knowledge of the distribution from which reward delays were chosen. We found that mice were able to accurately adjust their behavior to the SD of the reward delay distribution. Importantly, mice were able to flexibly adjust the amount of prior information used for inference according to the moment-by-moment demands of the task. The ability to infer probabilistic models for timing may allow mice to adapt to complex and dynamic natural environments.

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