On the dynamics of cortical development: synchrony and synaptic self-organization.
ABSTRACT: We describe a model for cortical development that resolves long-standing difficulties of earlier models. It is proposed that, during embryonic development, synchronous firing of neurons and their competition for limited metabolic resources leads to selection of an array of neurons with ultra-small-world characteristics. Consequently, in the visual cortex, macrocolumns linked by superficial patchy connections emerge in anatomically realistic patterns, with an ante-natal arrangement which projects signals from the surrounding cortex onto each macrocolumn in a form analogous to the projection of a Euclidean plane onto a Möbius strip. This configuration reproduces typical cortical response maps, and simulations of signal flow explain cortical responses to moving lines as functions of stimulus velocity, length, and orientation. With the introduction of direct visual inputs, under the operation of Hebbian learning, development of mature selective response "tuning" to stimuli of given orientation, spatial frequency, and temporal frequency would then take place, overwriting the earlier ante-natal configuration. The model is provisionally extended to hierarchical interactions of the visual cortex with higher centers, and a general principle for cortical processing of spatio-temporal images is sketched.
Project description:Pyramidal cells in layers 2 and 3 of the neocortex of many species collectively form a clustered system of lateral axonal projections (the superficial patch system--Lund JS, Angelucci A, Bressloff PC. 2003. Anatomical substrates for functional columns in macaque monkey primary visual cortex. Cereb Cortex. 13:15-24. or daisy architecture--Douglas RJ, Martin KAC. 2004. Neuronal circuits of the neocortex. Annu Rev Neurosci. 27:419-451.), but the function performed by this general feature of the cortical architecture remains obscure. By comparing the spatial configuration of labeled patches with the configuration of responses to drifting grating stimuli, we found the spatial organizations both of the patch system and of the cortical response to be highly conserved between cat and monkey primary visual cortex. More importantly, the configuration of the superficial patch system is directly reflected in the arrangement of function across monkey primary visual cortex. Our results indicate a close relationship between the structure of the superficial patch system and cortical responses encoding a single value across the surface of visual cortex (self-consistent states). This relationship is consistent with the spontaneous emergence of orientation response-like activity patterns during ongoing cortical activity (Kenet T, Bibitchkov D, Tsodyks M, Grinvald A, Arieli A. 2003. Spontaneously emerging cortical representations of visual attributes. Nature. 425:954-956.). We conclude that the superficial patch system is the physical encoding of self-consistent cortical states, and that a set of concurrently labeled patches participate in a network of mutually consistent representations of cortical input.
Project description:Cortical neurons in thalamic recipient layers receive excitation from the thalamus and the cortex. The relative contribution of these two sources of excitation to sensory tuning is poorly understood. We optogenetically silenced the visual cortex of mice to isolate thalamic excitation onto layer 4 neurons during visual stimulation. Thalamic excitation contributed to a third of the total excitation and was organized in spatially offset, yet overlapping, ON and OFF receptive fields. This receptive field structure predicted the orientation tuning of thalamic excitation. Finally, both thalamic and total excitation were similarly tuned to orientation and direction and had the same temporal phase relationship to the visual stimulus. Our results indicate that tuning of thalamic excitation is unlikely to be imparted by direction- or orientation-selective thalamic neurons and that a principal role of cortical circuits is to amplify tuned thalamic excitation.
Project description:Orientation selectivity is a fundamental, emergent property of neurons in early visual cortex, and the discovery of that property has dramatically shaped how we conceptualize visual processing. However, much remains unknown about the neural substrates of this basic building block of perception, and what is known primarily stems from animal physiology studies. To probe the neural concomitants of orientation processing in humans, we employed repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), which can significantly attenuate neuronal spiking activity, hemodynamic responses, and local field potentials within a focused cortical region. Using rTMS to suppress neural responses evoked by stimuli falling within a local region of the visual field, we were able to dissociate two distinct components of the neural circuitry underlying orientation processing: selectivity and contextual effects. Orientation selectivity gauged by masking was unchanged by rTMS, whereas an otherwise robust orientation repulsion illusion was weakened after rTMS. This dissociation implies that orientation processing in humans relies on distinct mechanisms, only one of which was impacted by rTMS. These results are consistent with models positing that orientation selectivity is governed by patterns of convergence of thalamic afferents onto cortical neurons, with intracortical activity then shaping population responses amongst those cortical neurons.
Project description:Orientation selectivity is a key property of primary visual cortex that contributes, downstream, to object recognition. The origin of orientation selectivity, however, has been debated for decades. It is known that on- and off-centre subcortical pathways converge onto single neurons in primary visual cortex, and that the spatial offset between these pathways gives rise to orientation selectivity. On- and off-centre pathways are intermingled, however, so it is unclear how their inputs to cortex come to be spatially segregated. We here describe a model in which the segregation occurs through Hebbian strengthening and weakening of geniculocortical synapses during the development of the visual system. Our findings include the following. 1. Neighbouring on- and off-inputs to cortex largely cancelled each other at the start of development. At each receptive field location, the Hebbian process increased the strength of one input sign at the expense of the other sign, producing a spatial segregation of on- and off-inputs. 2. The resulting orientation selectivity was precise in that the bandwidths of the orientation tuning functions fell within empirical estimates. 3. The model produced maps of preferred orientation-complete with iso-orientation domains and pinwheels-similar to those found in real cortex. 4. These maps did not originate in cortical processes, but from clustering of off-centre subcortical pathways and the relative location of neighbouring on-centre clusters. We conclude that a model with intermingled on- and off-pathways shaped by Hebbian synaptic plasticity can explain both the origin and development of orientation selectivity.
Project description:We present distinct patterns of neurite distribution in the human cerebral cortex using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We analyzed both high-resolution structural (T1w and T2w images) and diffusion MRI data in 505 subjects from the Human Connectome Project. Neurite distributions were evaluated using the neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging (NODDI) model, optimized for gray matter, and mapped onto the cortical surface using a method weighted towards the cortical mid-thickness to reduce partial volume effects. The estimated neurite density was high in both somatosensory and motor areas, early visual and auditory areas, and middle temporal area (MT), showing a strikingly similar distribution to myelin maps estimated from the T1w/T2w ratio. The estimated neurite orientation dispersion was particularly high in early sensory areas, which are known for dense tangential fibers and are classified as granular cortex by classical anatomists. Spatial gradients of these cortical neurite properties revealed transitions that colocalize with some areal boundaries in a recent multi-modal parcellation of the human cerebral cortex, providing mutually supportive evidence. Our findings indicate that analyzing the cortical gray matter neurite morphology using diffusion MRI and NODDI provides valuable information regarding cortical microstructure that is related to but complementary to myeloarchitecture.
Project description:Somatostatin (SST) is a neuropeptide expressed in a major subtype of GABAergic interneurons in the cortex. Despite abundant expression of SST and its receptors, their modulatory function in cortical processing remains unclear. Here, we found that SST application in the primary visual cortex (V1) improves visual discrimination in freely moving mice and enhances orientation selectivity of V1 neurons. We also found that SST reduced excitatory synaptic transmission to parvalbumin-positive (PV+) fast-spiking interneurons but not to regular-spiking neurons. Last, using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBEM), we found that axons of SST+ neurons in V1 often contact other axons that exhibit excitatory synapses onto the soma and proximal dendrites of the PV+ neuron. Collectively, our results demonstrate that the neuropeptide SST improves visual perception by enhancing visual gain of V1 neurons via a reduction in excitatory synaptic transmission to PV+ inhibitory neurons.
Project description:Primate vision research has shown that in the retinotopic map of the primary visual cortex, eccentricity and meridional angle are mapped onto two orthogonal axes: whereas the eccentricity is mapped onto the nasotemporal axis, the meridional angle is mapped onto the dorsoventral axis. Theoretically such a map has been approximated by a complex log map. Neural models with correlational learning have explained the development of other visual maps like orientation maps and ocular-dominance maps. In this paper it is demonstrated that activity based mechanisms can drive a self-organizing map (SOM) into such a configuration that dilations and rotations of a particular image (in this case a rectangular bar) are mapped onto orthogonal axes. We further demonstrate using the Laterally Interconnected Synergetically Self Organizing Map (LISSOM) model, with an appropriate boundary and realistic initial conditions, that a retinotopic map which maps eccentricity and meridional angle to the horizontal and vertical axes respectively can be developed. This developed map bears a strong resemblance to the complex log map. We also simulated lesion studies which indicate that the lateral excitatory connections play a crucial role in development of the retinotopic map.
Project description:Although cholinergic innervation of the cortex by the nucleus basalis (NB) is known to modulate cortical neuronal responses and instruct cortical plasticity, little is known about the underlying cellular mechanisms. Using cell-attached recordings in vivo, we demonstrate that electrical stimulation of the NB, paired with visual stimulation, can induce significant potentiation of visual responses in excitatory neurons of the primary visual cortex in mice. We further show with in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, ex vivo calcium imaging, and whole-cell recordings that this pairing-induced potentiation is mediated by direct cholinergic activation of primary visual cortex astrocytes via muscarinic AChRs. The potentiation is absent in conditional inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate receptor type 2 KO mice, which lack astrocyte calcium activation, and is stimulus-specific, because pairing NB stimulation with a specific visual orientation reveals a highly selective potentiation of responses to the paired orientation compared with unpaired orientations. Collectively, these findings reveal a unique and surprising role for astrocytes in NB-induced stimulus-specific plasticity in the cerebral cortex.
Project description:Neural selectivity to orientation is one of the simplest and most thoroughly-studied cortical sensory features. Here, we show that a large body of research that purported to measure orientation tuning may have in fact been inadvertently measuring sensitivity to second-order changes in luminance, a phenomenon we term 'vignetting'. Using a computational model of neural responses in primary visual cortex (V1), we demonstrate the impact of vignetting on simulated V1 responses. We then used the model to generate a set of predictions, which we confirmed with functional MRI experiments in human observers. Our results demonstrate that stimulus vignetting can wholly determine the orientation selectivity of responses in visual cortex measured at a macroscopic scale, and suggest a reinterpretation of a well-established literature on orientation processing in visual cortex.
Project description:Neurons in the primary visual cortex receive subliminal information originating from the periphery of their receptive fields (RF) through a variety of cortical connections. In the cat primary visual cortex, long-range horizontal axons have been reported to preferentially bind to distant columns of similar orientation preferences, whereas feedback connections from higher visual areas provide a more diverse functional input. To understand the role of these lateral interactions, it is crucial to characterize their effective functional connectivity and tuning properties. However, the overall functional impact of cortical lateral connections, whatever their anatomical origin, is unknown since it has never been directly characterized. Using direct measurements of postsynaptic integration in cat areas 17 and 18, we performed multi-scale assessments of the functional impact of visually driven lateral networks. Voltage-sensitive dye imaging showed that local oriented stimuli evoke an orientation-selective activity that remains confined to the cortical feedforward imprint of the stimulus. Beyond a distance of one hypercolumn, the lateral spread of cortical activity gradually lost its orientation preference approximated as an exponential with a space constant of about 1?mm. Intracellular recordings showed that this loss of orientation selectivity arises from the diversity of converging synaptic input patterns originating from outside the classical RF. In contrast, when the stimulus size was increased, we observed orientation-selective spread of activation beyond the feedforward imprint. We conclude that stimulus-induced cooperativity enhances the long-range orientation-selective spread.