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3 Publications

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    07/08/22 | Neural Algorithms and Circuits for Motor Planning.
    Inagaki HK, Chen S, Daie K, Finkelstein A, Fontolan L, Romani S, Svoboda K
    Annual Review Neuroscience. 2022 Jul 08;45:249-271. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-092021-121730

    The brain plans and executes volitional movements. The underlying patterns of neural population activity have been explored in the context of movements of the eyes, limbs, tongue, and head in nonhuman primates and rodents. How do networks of neurons produce the slow neural dynamics that prepare specific movements and the fast dynamics that ultimately initiate these movements? Recent work exploits rapid and calibrated perturbations of neural activity to test specific dynamical systems models that are capable of producing the observed neural activity. These joint experimental and computational studies show that cortical dynamics during motor planning reflect fixed points of neural activity (attractors). Subcortical control signals reshape and move attractors over multiple timescales, causing commitment to specific actions and rapid transitions to movement execution. Experiments in rodents are beginning to reveal how these algorithms are implemented at the level of brain-wide neural circuits.

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    05/25/22 | Accurate angular integration with only a handful of neurons.
    Marcella Noorman , Brad K Hulse , Vivek Jayaraman , Sandro Romani , Ann M Hermundstad
    bioRxiv. 2022 May 25:. doi: 10.1101/2022.05.23.493052

    To flexibly navigate, many animals rely on internal spatial representations that persist when the animal is standing still in darkness, and update accurately by integrating the animal's movements in the absence of localizing sensory cues. Theories of mammalian head direction cells have proposed that these dynamics can be realized in a special class of networks that maintain a localized bump of activity via structured recurrent connectivity, and that shift this bump of activity via angular velocity input. Although there are many different variants of these so-called ring attractor networks, they all rely on large numbers of neurons to generate representations that persist in the absence of input and accurately integrate angular velocity input. Surprisingly, in the fly, Drosophila melanogaster, a head direction representation is maintained by a much smaller number of neurons whose dynamics and connectivity resemble those of a ring attractor network. These findings challenge our understanding of ring attractors and their putative implementation in neural circuits. Here, we analyzed failures of angular velocity integration that emerge in small attractor networks with only a few computational units. Motivated by the peak performance of the fly head direction system in darkness, we mathematically derived conditions under which small networks, even with as few as 4 neurons, achieve the performance of much larger networks. The resulting description reveals that by appropriately tuning the network connectivity, the network can maintain persistent representations over the continuum of head directions, and it can accurately integrate angular velocity inputs. We then analytically determined how performance degrades as the connectivity deviates from this optimally-tuned setting, and we find a trade-off between network size and the tuning precision needed to achieve persistence and accurate integration. This work shows how even small networks can accurately track an animal's movements to guide navigation, and it informs our understanding of the functional capabilities of discrete systems more broadly.

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    02/22/22 | Neural Algorithms and Circuits for Motor Planning.
    Inagaki HK, Chen S, Daie K, Finklestein A, Fontolan L, Romani S, Svoboda K
    Annual Reviews Neuroscience. 2022 Feb 22:. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-092021-121730

    The brain plans and executes volitional movements. The underlying patterns of neural population activity have been explored in the context of movements of the eyes, limbs, tongue, and head in nonhuman primates and rodents. How do networks of neurons produce the slow neural dynamics that prepare specific movements and the fast dynamics that ultimately initiate these movements? Recent work exploits rapid and calibrated perturbations of neural activity to test specific dynamical systems models that are capable of producing the observed neural activity. These joint experimental and computational studies show that cortical dynamics during motor planning reflect fixed points of neural activity (attractors). Subcortical control signals reshape and move attractors over multiple timescales, causing commitment to specific actions and rapid transitions to movement execution. Experiments in rodents are beginning to reveal how these algorithms are implemented at the level of brain-wide neural circuits. Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 45 is July 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

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