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5 Janelia Publications

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    12/07/21 | A genetically defined insula-brainstem circuit selectively controls motivational vigor.
    Deng H, Xiao X, Yang T, Ritola K, Hantman A, Li Y, Huang ZJ, Li B
    Cell. 2021 Dec 07:. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.11.019

    The anterior insular cortex (aIC) plays a critical role in cognitive and motivational control of behavior, but the underlying neural mechanism remains elusive. Here, we show that aIC neurons expressing Fezf2 (aIC), which are the pyramidal tract neurons, signal motivational vigor and invigorate need-seeking behavior through projections to the brainstem nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS). aIC neurons and their postsynaptic NTS neurons acquire anticipatory activity through learning, which encodes the perceived value and the vigor of actions to pursue homeostatic needs. Correspondingly, aIC → NTS circuit activity controls vigor, effort, and striatal dopamine release but only if the action is learned and the outcome is needed. Notably, aIC neurons do not represent taste or valence. Moreover, aIC → NTS activity neither drives reinforcement nor influences total consumption. These results pinpoint specific functions of aIC → NTS circuit for selectively controlling motivational vigor and suggest that motivation is subserved, in part, by aIC's top-down regulation of dopamine signaling.

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    10/18/21 | Genetically identified amygdala-striatal circuits for valence-specific behaviors.
    Zhang X, Guan W, Yang T, Furlan A, Xiao X, Yu K, An X, Galbavy W, Ramakrishnan C, Deisseroth K, Ritola K, Hantman A, He M, Josh Huang Z, Li B
    Nature Neuroscience. 2021 Oct 18;24(11):1586-1600. doi: 10.1038/s41593-021-00927-0

    The basolateral amygdala (BLA) plays essential roles in behaviors motivated by stimuli with either positive or negative valence, but how it processes motivationally opposing information and participates in establishing valence-specific behaviors remains unclear. Here, by targeting Fezf2-expressing neurons in the BLA, we identify and characterize two functionally distinct classes in behaving mice, the negative-valence neurons and positive-valence neurons, which innately represent aversive and rewarding stimuli, respectively, and through learning acquire predictive responses that are essential for punishment avoidance or reward seeking. Notably, these two classes of neurons receive inputs from separate sets of sensory and limbic areas, and convey punishment and reward information through projections to the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle, respectively, to drive negative and positive reinforcement. Thus, valence-specific BLA neurons are wired with distinctive input-output structures, forming a circuit framework that supports the roles of the BLA in encoding, learning and executing valence-specific motivated behaviors.

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    07/29/21 | Disrupting cortico-cerebellar communication impairs dexterity.
    Guo J, Sauerbrei BA, Cohen JD, Mischiati M, Graves AR, Pisanello F, Branson KM, Hantman AW
    eLife. 2021 Jul 29;10:. doi: 10.7554/eLife.65906

    To control reaching, the nervous system must generate large changes in muscle activation to drive the limb toward the target, and must also make smaller adjustments for precise and accurate behavior. Motor cortex controls the arm through projections to diverse targets across the central nervous system, but it has been challenging to identify the roles of cortical projections to specific targets. Here, we selectively disrupt cortico-cerebellar communication in the mouse by optogenetically stimulating the pontine nuclei in a cued reaching task. This perturbation did not typically block movement initiation, but degraded the precision, accuracy, duration, or success rate of the movement. Correspondingly, cerebellar and cortical activity during movement were largely preserved, but differences in hand velocity between control and stimulation conditions predicted from neural activity were correlated with observed velocity differences. These results suggest that while the total output of motor cortex drives reaching, the cortico-cerebellar loop makes small adjustments that contribute to the successful execution of this dexterous movement.

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    06/15/21 | A cerebellar-thalamocortical pathway drives behavioral context-dependent movement initiation.
    Dacre J, Colligan M, Clarke T, Ammer JJ, Schiemann J, Chamosa-Pino V, Claudi F, Harston JA, Eleftheriou C, Pakan JM, Huang C, Hantman AW, Rochefort NL, Duguid I
    Neuron. 2021 Jun 15;109(14):2326-2338. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.05.016

    Executing learned motor behaviors often requires the transformation of sensory cues into patterns of motor commands that generate appropriately timed actions. The cerebellum and thalamus are two key areas involved in shaping cortical output and movement, but the contribution of a cerebellar-thalamocortical pathway to voluntary movement initiation remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated how an auditory "go cue" transforms thalamocortical activity patterns and how these changes relate to movement initiation. Population responses in dentate/interpositus-recipient regions of motor thalamus reflect a time-locked increase in activity immediately prior to movement initiation that is temporally uncoupled from the go cue, indicative of a fixed-latency feedforward motor timing signal. Blocking cerebellar or motor thalamic output suppresses movement initiation, while stimulation triggers movements in a behavioral context-dependent manner. Our findings show how cerebellar output, via the thalamus, shapes cortical activity patterns necessary for learned context-dependent movement initiation.

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    04/16/21 | Neuropixels 2.0: A miniaturized high-density probe for stable, long-term brain recordings.
    Steinmetz NA, Aydın Ç, Lebedeva A, Okun M, Pachitariu M, Bauza M, Beau M, Bhagat J, Böhm C, Broux M, Chen S, Colonell J, Gardner RJ, Karsh B, Kloosterman F, Kostadinov D, Mora-Lopez C, O'Callaghan J, Park J, Putzeys J, Sauerbrei B, van Daal RJ, Vollan AZ, Wang S, Welkenhuysen M, Ye Z, Dudman JT, Dutta B, Hantman AW, Harris KD, Lee AK, Moser EI, O'Keefe J, Renart A, Svoboda K, Häusser M, Haesler S, Carandini M, Harris TD
    Science. 2021 Apr 16;372(6539):. doi: 10.1126/science.abf4588

    Measuring the dynamics of neural processing across time scales requires following the spiking of thousands of individual neurons over milliseconds and months. To address this need, we introduce the Neuropixels 2.0 probe together with newly designed analysis algorithms. The probe has more than 5000 sites and is miniaturized to facilitate chronic implants in small mammals and recording during unrestrained behavior. High-quality recordings over long time scales were reliably obtained in mice and rats in six laboratories. Improved site density and arrangement combined with newly created data processing methods enable automatic post hoc correction for brain movements, allowing recording from the same neurons for more than 2 months. These probes and algorithms enable stable recordings from thousands of sites during free behavior, even in small animals such as mice.

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