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3 Janelia Publications

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    05/22/17 | Angular velocity integration in a fly heading circuit.
    Turner-Evans D, Wegener S, Rouault H, Franconville R, Wolff T, Seelig JD, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    eLife. 2017 May 22;6:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23496

    Many animals maintain an internal representation of their heading as they move through their surroundings. Such a compass representation was recently discovered in a neural population in the Drosophila melanogaster central complex, a brain region implicated in spatial navigation. Here, we use two-photon calcium imaging and electrophysiology in head-fixed walking flies to identify a different neural population that conjunctively encodes heading and angular velocity, and is excited selectively by turns in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction. We show how these mirror-symmetric turn responses combine with the neurons' connectivity to the compass neurons to create an elegant mechanism for updating the fly's heading representation when the animal turns in darkness. This mechanism, which employs recurrent loops with an angular shift, bears a resemblance to those proposed in theoretical models for rodent head direction cells. Our results provide a striking example of structure matching function for a broadly relevant computation.

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    05/04/17 | Ring attractor dynamics in the Drosophila central brain.
    Kim SS, Rouault H, Druckmann S, Jayaraman V
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 May 04;356(6340):849-53. doi: 10.1126/science.aal4835

    Ring attractors are a class of recurrent networks hypothesized to underlie the representation of heading direction. Such network structures, schematized as a ring of neurons whose connectivity depends on their heading preferences, can sustain a bump-like activity pattern whose location can be updated by continuous shifts along either turn direction. We recently reported that a population of fly neurons represents the animal's heading via bump-like activity dynamics. We combined two-photon calcium imaging in head-fixed flying flies with optogenetics to overwrite the existing population representation with an artificial one, which was then maintained by the circuit with naturalistic dynamics. A network with local excitation and global inhibition enforces this unique and persistent heading representation. Ring attractor networks have long been invoked in theoretical work; our study provides physiological evidence of their existence and functional architecture.

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    Druckmann LabSvoboda Lab
    05/03/17 | Maintenance of persistent activity in a frontal thalamocortical loop.
    Guo ZV, Inagaki HK, Daie K, Druckmann S, Gerfen CR, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2017 May 03;545(7653):181-6. doi: 10.1038/nature22324

    Persistent neural activity maintains information that connects past and future events. Models of persistent activity often invoke reverberations within local cortical circuits, but long-range circuits could also contribute. Neurons in the mouse anterior lateral motor cortex (ALM) have been shown to have selective persistent activity that instructs future actions. The ALM is connected bidirectionally with parts of the thalamus, including the ventral medial and ventral anterior-lateral nuclei. We recorded spikes from the ALM and thalamus during tactile discrimination with a delayed directional response. Here we show that, similar to ALM neurons, thalamic neurons exhibited selective persistent delay activity that predicted movement direction. Unilateral photoinhibition of delay activity in the ALM or thalamus produced contralesional neglect. Photoinhibition of the thalamus caused a short-latency and near-complete collapse of ALM activity. Similarly, photoinhibition of the ALM diminished thalamic activity. Our results show that the thalamus is a circuit hub in motor preparation and suggest that persistent activity requires reciprocal excitation across multiple brain areas.

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