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13 Janelia Publications

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    06/18/18 | A novel pyramidal cell type promotes sharp-wave synchronization in the hippocampus.
    Hunt DL, Linaro D, Si B, Romani S, Spruston N
    Nature Neuroscience. 2018 Jun 18:. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0172-7

    To support cognitive function, the CA3 region of the hippocampus performs computations involving attractor dynamics. Understanding how cellular and ensemble activities of CA3 neurons enable computation is critical for elucidating the neural correlates of cognition. Here we show that CA3 comprises not only classically described pyramid cells with thorny excrescences, but also includes previously unidentified 'athorny' pyramid cells that lack mossy-fiber input. Moreover, the two neuron types have distinct morphological and physiological phenotypes and are differentially modulated by acetylcholine. To understand the contribution of these athorny pyramid neurons to circuit function, we measured cell-type-specific firing patterns during sharp-wave synchronization events in vivo and recapitulated these dynamics with an attractor network model comprising two principal cell types. Our data and simulations reveal a key role for athorny cell bursting in the initiation of sharp waves: transient network attractor states that signify the execution of pattern completion computations vital to cognitive function.

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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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    01/08/18 | Simple integration of fast excitation and offset, delayed inhibition computes directional selectivity in Drosophila.
    Gruntman E, Romani S, Reiser MB
    Nature Neuroscience. 2018 Jan 08;21(2):250-7. doi: 10.1038/s41593-017-0046-4

    A neuron that extracts directionally selective motion information from upstream signals lacking this selectivity must compare visual responses from spatially offset inputs. Distinguishing among prevailing algorithmic models for this computation requires measuring fast neuronal activity and inhibition. In the Drosophila melanogaster visual system, a fourth-order neuron-T4-is the first cell type in the ON pathway to exhibit directionally selective signals. Here we use in vivo whole-cell recordings of T4 to show that directional selectivity originates from simple integration of spatially offset fast excitatory and slow inhibitory inputs, resulting in a suppression of responses to the nonpreferred motion direction. We constructed a passive, conductance-based model of a T4 cell that accurately predicts the neuron's response to moving stimuli. These results connect the known circuit anatomy of the motion pathway to the algorithmic mechanism by which the direction of motion is computed.

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    Romani LabMagee Lab
    09/08/17 | Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields.
    Bittner KC, Milstein AD, Grienberger C, Romani S, Magee JC
    Science (New York, N.Y.). 2017 Sep 08;357(6355):1033-1036. doi: 10.1126/science.aan3846

    Learning is primarily mediated by activity-dependent modifications of synaptic strength within neuronal circuits. We discovered that place fields in hippocampal area CA1 are produced by a synaptic potentiation notably different from Hebbian plasticity. Place fields could be produced in vivo in a single trial by potentiation of input that arrived seconds before and after complex spiking. The potentiated synaptic input was not initially coincident with action potentials or depolarization. This rule, named behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity, abruptly modifies inputs that were neither causal nor close in time to postsynaptic activation. In slices, five pairings of subthreshold presynaptic activity and calcium (Ca(2+)) plateau potentials produced a large potentiation with an asymmetric seconds-long time course. This plasticity efficiently stores entire behavioral sequences within synaptic weights to produce predictive place cell activity.

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    06/07/17 | Memory retrieval from first principles.
    Katkov M, Romani S, Tsodyks M
    Neuron. 2017 Jun 07;94(5):1027-1032. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.048

    The dilemma that neurotheorists face is that (1) detailed biophysical models that can be constrained by direct measurements, while being of great importance, offer no immediate insights into cognitive processes in the brain, and (2) high-level abstract cognitive models, on the other hand, while relevant for understanding behavior, are largely detached from neuronal processes and typically have many free, experimentally unconstrained parameters that have to be tuned to a particular data set and, hence, cannot be readily generalized to other experimental paradigms. In this contribution, we propose a set of "first principles" for neurally inspired cognitive modeling of memory retrieval that has no biologically unconstrained parameters and can be analyzed mathematically both at neuronal and cognitive levels. We apply this framework to the classical cognitive paradigm of free recall. We show that the resulting model accounts well for puzzling behavioral data on human participants and makes predictions that could potentially be tested with neurophysiological recording techniques.

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    05/30/17 | Theta-paced flickering between place-cell maps in the hippocampus: A model based on short-term synaptic plasticity.
    Mark S, Romani S, Jezek K, Tsodyks M
    Hippocampus. 2017 May 30;27(9):959-70. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22743

    Hippocampal place cells represent different environments with distinct neural activity patterns. Following an abrupt switch between two familiar configurations of visual cues defining two environments, the hippocampal neural activity pattern switches almost immediately to the corresponding representation. Surprisingly, during a transient period following the switch to the new environment, occasional fast transitions of activity patterns between the representations (flickering) were observed (Jezek et al. 2011). Here we show that an attractor neural network model of place cells with connections endowed with short-term synaptic plasticity can account for this phenomenon. A memory trace of the recent history of network activity is maintained in the state of the synapses, allowing the network to temporarily reactivate the representation of the previous environment in the absence of the corresponding sensory cues. The model predicts that the number of flickering events depends on the amplitude of the ongoing theta rhythm and the distance between the current position of the animal and its position at the time of cue switching. We test these predictions with new analysis of experimental data. These results suggest a potential role of short-term synaptic plasticity in recruiting the activity of different cell assemblies and in shaping hippocampal activity of behaving animals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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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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    Romani LabMagee Lab
    01/23/17 | Inhibitory suppression of heterogeneously tuned excitation enhances spatial coding in CA1 place cells.
    Grienberger C, Milstein AD, Bittner KC, Romani S, Magee JC
    Nature Neuroscience. 2017 Jan 23;20(3):417-26. doi: 10.1038/nn.4486

    Place cells in the CA1 region of the hippocampus express location-specific firing despite receiving a steady barrage of heterogeneously tuned excitatory inputs that should compromise output dynamic range and timing. We examined the role of synaptic inhibition in countering the deleterious effects of off-target excitation. Intracellular recordings in behaving mice demonstrate that bimodal excitation drives place cells, while unimodal excitation drives weaker or no spatial tuning in interneurons. Optogenetic hyperpolarization of interneurons had spatially uniform effects on place cell membrane potential dynamics, substantially reducing spatial selectivity. These data and a computational model suggest that spatially uniform inhibitory conductance enhances rate coding in place cells by suppressing out-of-field excitation and by limiting dendritic amplification. Similarly, we observed that inhibitory suppression of phasic noise generated by out-of-field excitation enhances temporal coding by expanding the range of theta phase precession. Thus, spatially uniform inhibition allows proficient and flexible coding in hippocampal CA1 by suppressing heterogeneously tuned excitation.

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    05/30/16 | Hippocampal global remapping for different sensory modalities in flying bats.
    Geva-Sagiv M, Romani S, Las L, Ulanovsky N
    Nature Neuroscience. 2016 May 30;19(7):952-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.4310

    Hippocampal place cells encode the animal's spatial position. However, it is unknown how different long-range sensory systems affect spatial representations. Here we alternated usage of vision and echolocation in Egyptian fruit bats while recording from single neurons in hippocampal areas CA1 and subiculum. Bats flew back and forth along a linear flight track, employing echolocation in darkness or vision in light. Hippocampal representations remapped between vision and echolocation via two kinds of remapping: subiculum neurons turned on or off, while CA1 neurons shifted their place fields. Interneurons also exhibited strong remapping. Finally, hippocampal place fields were sharper under vision than echolocation, matching the superior sensory resolution of vision over echolocation. Simulating several theoretical models of place-cells suggested that combining sensory information and path integration best explains the experimental sharpening data. In summary, here we show sensory-based global remapping in a mammal, suggesting that the hippocampus does not contain an abstract spatial map but rather a 'cognitive atlas', with multiple maps for different sensory modalities.

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