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94 Janelia Publications

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    11/23/18 | Paring down to the essentials.
    Wang T
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2018 Nov 23;362(6417):904. doi: 10.1126/science.aav6872
    10/31/18 | Distinct descending motor cortex pathways and their roles in movement.
    Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Tasic B, Bas E, Winnubst J, Menon V, Graybuck LT, Nguyen TN, Smith KA, Yao Z, Wang L, Gerfen CR, Chandrashekar J, Zeng H, Looger LL, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):79-84. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0642-9

    Activity in the motor cortex predicts movements, seconds before they are initiated. This preparatory activity has been observed across cortical layers, including in descending pyramidal tract neurons in layer 5. A key question is how preparatory activity is maintained without causing movement, and is ultimately converted to a motor command to trigger appropriate movements. Here, using single-cell transcriptional profiling and axonal reconstructions, we identify two types of pyramidal tract neuron. Both types project to several targets in the basal ganglia and brainstem. One type projects to thalamic regions that connect back to motor cortex; populations of these neurons produced early preparatory activity that persisted until the movement was initiated. The second type projects to motor centres in the medulla and mainly produced late preparatory activity and motor commands. These results indicate that two types of motor cortex output neurons have specialized roles in motor control.

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    10/31/18 | Shared and distinct transcriptomic cell types across neocortical areas.
    Tasic B, Yao Z, Graybuck LT, Smith KA, Nguyen TN, Bertagnolli D, Goldy J, Garren E, Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Penn O, Bakken T, Menon V, Miller J, Fong O, Hirokawa KE, Lathia K, Rimorin C, Tieu M, Larsen R, Casper T, Barkan E, Kroll M, Parry S, Shapovalova NV, Hirschstein D, Pendergraft J, Sullivan HA, Kim TK, Szafer A, Dee N, Groblewski P, Wickersham I, Cetin A, Harris JA, Levi BP, Sunkin SM, Madisen L, Daigle TL, Looger L, Bernard A, Phillips J, Lein E, Hawrylycz M, Svoboda K, Jones AR, Koch C, Zeng H
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):72-78. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0654-5

    The neocortex contains a multitude of cell types that are segregated into layers and functionally distinct areas. To investigate the diversity of cell types across the mouse neocortex, here we analysed 23,822 cells from two areas at distant poles of the mouse neocortex: the primary visual cortex and the anterior lateral motor cortex. We define 133 transcriptomic cell types by deep, single-cell RNA sequencing. Nearly all types of GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid)-containing neurons are shared across both areas, whereas most types of glutamatergic neurons were found in one of the two areas. By combining single-cell RNA sequencing and retrograde labelling, we match transcriptomic types of glutamatergic neurons to their long-range projection specificity. Our study establishes a combined transcriptomic and projectional taxonomy of cortical cell types from functionally distinct areas of the adult mouse cortex.

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    10/17/18 | A cortico-cerebellar loop for motor planning.
    Gao Z, Davis C, Thomas AM, Economo MN, Abrego AM, Svoboda K, De Zeeuw CI, Li N
    Nature. 2018 Oct 17;563:113-6. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0633-x

    Persistent and ramping neural activity in the frontal cortex anticipates specific movements. Preparatory activity is distributed across several brain regions, but it is unclear which brain areas are involved and how this activity is mediated by multi-regional interactions. The cerebellum is thought to be primarily involved in the short-timescale control of movement; however, roles for this structure in cognitive processes have also been proposed. In humans, cerebellar damage can cause defects in planning and working memory. Here we show that persistent representation of information in the frontal cortex during motor planning is dependent on the cerebellum. Mice performed a sensory discrimination task in which they used short-term memory to plan a future directional movement. A transient perturbation in the medial deep cerebellar nucleus (fastigial nucleus) disrupted subsequent correct responses without hampering movement execution. Preparatory activity was observed in both the frontal cortex and the cerebellar nuclei, seconds before the onset of movement. The silencing of frontal cortex activity abolished preparatory activity in the cerebellar nuclei, and fastigial activity was necessary to maintain cortical preparatory activity. Fastigial output selectively targeted the behaviourally relevant part of the frontal cortex through the thalamus, thus closing a cortico-cerebellar loop. Our results support the view that persistent neural dynamics during motor planning is maintained by neural circuits that span multiple brain regions, and that cerebellar computations extend beyond online motor control.

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    10/11/18 | Thy1 transgenic mice expressing the red fluorescent calcium indicator jRGECO1a for neuronal population imaging in vivo.
    Dana H, Novak O, Guardado-Montesino M, Fransen JW, Hu A, Borghuis BG, Guo C, Kim DS, Svoboda K
    PloS One. 2018;13(10):e0205444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205444

    Calcium imaging is commonly used to measure the neural activity of large groups of neurons in mice. Genetically encoded calcium indicators (GECIs) can be delivered for this purpose using non-invasive genetic methods. Compared to viral gene transfer, transgenic targeting of GECIs provides stable long-term expression and obviates the need for invasive viral injections. Transgenic mice expressing the green GECI GCaMP6 are already widely used. Here we present the generation and characterization of transgenic mice expressing the sensitive red GECI jRGECO1a, driven by the Thy1 promoter. Four transgenic lines with different expression patterns showed sufficiently high expression for cellular in vivo imaging. We used two-photon microscopy to characterize visual responses of individual neurons in the visual cortex in vivo. The signal-to-noise ratio in transgenic mice was comparable to, or better than, mice transduced with adeno-associated virus. In addition, we show that Thy1-jRGECO1a transgenic mice are useful for transcranial population imaging and functional mapping using widefield fluorescence microscopy. We also demonstrate imaging of visual responses in retinal ganglion cells in vitro. Thy1-jRGECO1a transgenic mice are therefore a useful addition to the toolbox for imaging activity in intact neural networks.

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    08/24/18 | Anterolateral motor cortex connects with a medial subdivision of ventromedial thalamus through cell-type-specific circuits, forming an excitatory thalamo-cortico-thalamic loop via layer 1 apical tuft dendrites of layer 5B pyramidal tract type neurons.
    Guo K, Yamawaki N, Svoboda K, Shepherd GM
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2018 Aug 24;38(41):8787-97. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1333-18.2018

    The anterolateral motor cortex (ALM) and ventromedial (VM) thalamus are functionally linked to support persistent activity during motor planning. We analyzed the underlying synaptic interconnections using optogenetics and electrophysiology in mice (♀/♂). In cortex, thalamocortical (TC) axons from VM excited VM-projecting pyramidal-tract (PT) neurons in layer 5B of ALM. These axons also strongly excited layer 2/3 neurons (which strongly excite PT neurons, as previously shown) but not VM-projecting corticothalamic (CT) neurons in layer 6. The strongest connections in the VM→PT circuit were localized to apical-tuft dendrites of PT neurons, in layer 1. These tuft inputs were selectively augmented after blocking hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels. In thalamus, axons from ALM PT neurons excited ALM-projecting VM neurons, located medially in VM. These axons provided weak input to neurons in mediodorsal nucleus, and little or no input either to neurons in the GABAergic reticular thalamic nucleus or to neurons in VM projecting to primary motor cortex (M1). Conversely, M1 PT axons excited M1- but not ALM-projecting VM neurons. Our findings indicate, first, a set of cell-type-specific connections forming an excitatory thalamo-cortico-thalamic (T-C-T) loop for ALM↔VM communication and a circuit-level substrate for supporting reverberant activity in this system. Second, a key feature of this loop is the prominent involvement of layer 1 synapses onto apical dendrites, a subcellular compartment with distinct signaling properties, including HCN-mediated gain control. Third, the segregation of the ALM↔VM loop from M1-related circuits of VM adds cellular-level support for the concept of parallel pathway organization in the motor system.Anterolateral motor cortex (ALM), a higher-order motor area in the mouse, and ventromedial thalamus (VM) are anatomically and functionally linked, but their synaptic interconnections at the cellular level are unknown. Our results show that ALM pyramidal tract neurons monosynaptically excite ALM-projecting thalamocortical neurons in a medial subdivision of VM, and vice versa. The thalamo-cortico-thalamic loop formed by these recurrent connections constitutes a circuit-level substrate for supporting reverberant activity in this system.

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    06/28/18 | Kilohertz frame-rate two-photon tomography.
    Kazemipour A, Novak O, Flickinger D, Marvin JS, King J, Borden P, Druckmann S, Svoboda K, Looger LL, Podgorski K
    bioRxiv. 2018 Jun 28:. doi: 10.1101/357269

    Point-scanning two-photon microscopy enables high-resolution imaging within scattering specimens such as the mammalian brain, but sequential acquisition of voxels fundamentally limits imaging speed. We developed a two-photon imaging technique that scans lines of excitation across a focal plane at multiple angles and uses prior information to recover high-resolution images at over 1.4 billion voxels per second. Using a structural image as a prior for recording neural activity, we imaged visually-evoked and spontaneous glutamate release across hundreds of dendritic spines in mice at depths over 250 microns and frame-rates over 1 kHz. Dendritic glutamate transients in anaesthetized mice are synchronized within spatially-contiguous domains spanning tens of microns at frequencies ranging from 1-100 Hz. We demonstrate high-speed recording of acetylcholine and calcium sensors, 3D single-particle tracking, and imaging in densely-labeled cortex. Our method surpasses limits on the speed of raster-scanned imaging imposed by fluorescence lifetime.

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    06/04/18 | Motor control: three-dimensional metric of head movements in the mouse brain.
    Finkelstein A
    Current Biology : CB. 2018 Jun 04;28(11):R660-R662. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.079

    Many forms of human and animal behavior involve head movements. A new study reveals the neural code for three-dimensional head movements in the midbrain of freely moving mice.

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    04/18/18 | Genetic dissection of neural circuits: a decade of progress
    Luo L, Callaway EM, Svoboda K
    Neuron. 2018 Apr 18;98(2):256-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.03.040

    Tremendous progress has been made since Neuron published our Primer on genetic dissection of neural circuits 10 years ago. Since then, cell-type-specific anatomical, neurophysiological, and perturbation studies have been carried out in a multitude of invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, linking neurons and circuits to behavioral functions. New methods allow systematic classification of cell types and provide genetic access to diverse neuronal types for studies of connectivity and neural coding during behavior. Here we evaluate key advances over the past decade and discuss future directions.

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    03/28/18 | Low-dimensional and monotonic preparatory activity in mouse anterior lateral motor cortex.
    Inagaki HK, Inagaki M, Romani S, Svoboda K
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2018 Mar 28:. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3152-17.2018

    Neurons in multiple brain regions fire trains of action potentials anticipating specific movements, but this 'preparatory activity' has not been systematically compared across behavioral tasks. We compared preparatory activity in auditory and tactile delayed-response tasks in male mice. Skilled, directional licking was the motor output. The anterior lateral motor cortex (ALM) is necessary for motor planning in both tasks. Multiple features of ALM preparatory activity during the delay epoch were similar across tasks. First, majority of neurons showed direction-selective activity and spatially intermingled neurons were selective for either movement direction. Second, many cells showed mixed coding of sensory stimulus and licking direction, with a bias toward licking direction. Third, delay activity was monotonic and low-dimensional. Fourth, pairs of neurons with similar direction selectivity showed high spike-count correlations. Our study forms the foundation to analyze the neural circuit mechanisms underlying preparatory activity in a genetically tractable model organism.Short-term memories link events separated in time. Neurons in frontal cortex fire trains of action potentials anticipating specific movements, often seconds before the movement. This 'preparatory activity' has been observed in multiple brain regions, but has rarely been compared systematically across behavioral tasks in the same brain region. To identify common features of preparatory activity, we developed and compared preparatory activity in auditory and tactile delayed-response tasks in mice. The same cortical area is necessary for both tasks. Multiple features of preparatory activity, measured with high-density silicon probes, were similar across tasks. We find that preparatory activity is low-dimensional and monotonic. Our study forms the foundation to analyze the circuit mechanisms underlying preparatory activity in a genetically tractable model organism.

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