Optogenetic activation of an inhibitory network enhances feedforward functional connectivity in auditory cortex.
ABSTRACT: The mammalian neocortex is a highly interconnected network of different types of neurons organized into both layers and columns. Overlaid on this structural organization is a pattern of functional connectivity that can be rapidly and flexibly altered during behavior. Parvalbumin-positive (PV+) inhibitory neurons, which are implicated in cortical oscillations and can change neuronal selectivity, may play a pivotal role in these dynamic changes. We found that optogenetic activation of PV+ neurons in the auditory cortex enhanced feedforward functional connectivity in the putative thalamorecipient circuit and in cortical columnar circuits. In contrast, stimulation of PV+ neurons induced no change in connectivity between sites in the same layers. The activity of PV+ neurons may thus serve as a gating mechanism to enhance feedforward, but not lateral or feedback, information flow in cortical circuits. Functionally, it may preferentially enhance the contribution of bottom-up sensory inputs to perception.
Project description:Memories become less precise and generalized over time as memory traces reorganize in hippocampal-cortical networks. Increased time-dependent loss of memory precision is characterized by an overgeneralization of fear in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or age-related cognitive impairments. In the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG), memories are thought to be encoded by so-called 'engram-bearing' dentate granule cells (eDGCs). Here we show, using rodents, that contextual fear conditioning increases connectivity between eDGCs and inhibitory interneurons (INs) in the downstream hippocampal CA3 region. We identify actin-binding LIM protein 3 (ABLIM3) as a mossy-fiber-terminal-localized cytoskeletal factor whose levels decrease after learning. Downregulation of ABLIM3 expression in DGCs was sufficient to increase connectivity with CA3 stratum lucidum INs (SLINs), promote parvalbumin (PV)-expressing SLIN activation, enhance feedforward inhibition onto CA3 and maintain a fear memory engram in the DG over time. Furthermore, downregulation of ABLIM3 expression in DGCs conferred conditioned context-specific reactivation of memory traces in hippocampal-cortical and amygdalar networks and decreased fear memory generalization at remote (i.e., distal) time points. Consistent with the observation of age-related hyperactivity of CA3, learning failed to increase DGC-SLIN connectivity in 17-month-old mice, whereas downregulation of ABLIM3 expression was sufficient to restore DGC-SLIN connectivity, increase PV+ SLIN activation and improve the precision of remote memories. These studies exemplify a connectivity-based strategy that targets a molecular brake of feedforward inhibition in DG-CA3 and may be harnessed to decrease time-dependent memory generalization in individuals with PTSD and improve memory precision in aging individuals.
Project description:Thalamic recruitment of feedforward inhibition is known to enhance the fidelity of the receptive field by limiting the temporal window during which cortical neurons integrate excitatory inputs. Feedforward inhibition driven by the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus (MD) has been previously observed, but its physiological function and regulation remain unknown. Accumulating evidence suggests that elevated neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex is required for the short-term storage of information. Furthermore, the elevated neuronal activity is supported by the reciprocal connectivity between the MD and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Therefore, detailed knowledge about the synaptic connections during high-frequency activity is critical for understanding the mechanism of short-term memory. In this study, we examined how feedforward inhibition of thalamofrontal connectivity is modulated by activity frequency. We observed greater short-term synaptic depression during disynaptic inhibition than in thalamic excitatory synapses during high-frequency activities. The strength of feedforward inhibition became weaker as the stimulation continued, which, in turn, enhanced the range of firing jitter in a frequency-dependent manner. We postulated that this phenomenon was primarily due to the increased failure rate of evoking action potentials in parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory neurons. These findings suggest that the MD-mPFC pathway is dynamically regulated by an excitatory-inhibitory balance in an activity-dependent manner. During low-frequency activities, excessive excitations are inhibited, and firing is restricted to a limited temporal range by the strong feedforward inhibition. However, during high-frequency activities, such as during short-term memory, the activity can be transferred in a broader temporal range due to the decreased feedforward inhibition.
Project description:The perirhinal (PER) and lateral entorhinal (LEC) cortex form an anatomical link between the neocortex and the hippocampus. However, neocortical activity is transmitted through the PER and LEC to the hippocampus with a low probability, suggesting the involvement of the inhibitory network. This study explored the role of interneuron mediated inhibition, activated by electrical stimulation in the agranular insular cortex (AiP), in the deep layers of the PER and LEC. Activated synaptic input by AiP stimulation rarely evoked action potentials in the PER-LEC deep layer excitatory principal neurons, most probably because the evoked synaptic response consisted of a small excitatory and large inhibitory conductance. Furthermore, parvalbumin positive (PV) interneurons-a subset of interneurons projecting onto the axo-somatic region of principal neurons-received synaptic input earlier than principal neurons, suggesting recruitment of feedforward inhibition. This synaptic input in PV interneurons evoked varying trains of action potentials, explaining the fast rising, long lasting synaptic inhibition received by deep layer principal neurons. Altogether, the excitatory input from the AiP onto deep layer principal neurons is overruled by strong feedforward inhibition. PV interneurons, with their fast, extensive stimulus-evoked firing, are able to deliver this fast evoked inhibition in principal neurons. This indicates an essential role for PV interneurons in the gating mechanism of the PER-LEC network.
Project description:According to the prevailing view of neural development, sensory pathways develop sequentially in a feedforward manner, whereby each local microcircuit refines and stabilizes before directing the wiring of its downstream target. In the visual system, retinal circuits are thought to mature first and direct refinement in the thalamus, after which cortical circuits refine with experience-dependent plasticity. In contrast, we now show that feedback from cortex to thalamus critically regulates refinement of the retinogeniculate projection during a discrete window in development, beginning at postnatal day 20 in mice. Disrupting cortical activity during this window, pharmacologically or chemogenetically, increases the number of retinal ganglion cells innervating each thalamic relay neuron. These results suggest that primary sensory structures develop through the concurrent and interdependent remodeling of subcortical and cortical circuits in response to sensory experience, rather than through a simple feedforward process. Our findings also highlight an unexpected function for the corticothalamic projection.
Project description:In mammals, subplate neurons (SPNs) are among the first generated cortical neurons. While most SPNs exist only transiently during development, a number of SPNs persist among adult Layer 6b (L6b). During development, SPNs receive thalamic and intra-cortical input, and primarily project to Layer 4 (L4). SPNs are critical for the anatomical and functional development of thalamocortical connections and also pioneer corticothalamic projections. Since SPNs are heterogeneous, SPN subpopulations might serve different roles. Here, we investigate the connectivity of one subpopulation, complexin-3 (Cplx3)-positive SPNs (Cplx3-SPNs), in mouse whisker somatosensory (barrel) cortex (S1). We find that many Cplx3-SPNs survive into adulthood and become a subpopulation of L6b. Cplx3-SPNs axons project to thalamorecipient layers, that is, L4, 5a, and 1. The L4 projections are biased towards the septal regions between barrels in the second postnatal week. Thus, S1 Cplx3-SPN targets co-localize with the eventual projections of the medial posterior thalamic nucleus (POm). In addition to their cortical targets, Cplx3-SPNs also extend long-range axons to several thalamic nuclei, including POm. Thus, Cplx3-SPN/L6b neurons are associated with paralemniscal pathways and can potentially directly link thalamocortical and corticothalamic circuits. This suggests an additional key role for SPNs in the establishment and maintenance of thalamocortical processing.
Project description:Feedforward inhibition controls the time window for synaptic integration and ensures temporal precision in cortical circuits. There is little information whether feedforward inhibition affects neurons uniformly, or whether it contributes to computational refinement within the dendritic tree. Here we demonstrate that feedforward inhibition crucially shapes the integration of synaptic signals in pyramidal cell dendrites. Using voltage-sensitive dye imaging we studied the transmembrane voltage patterns in CA1 pyramidal neurons after Schaffer collateral stimulation in acute brain slices from mice. We observed a high degree of variability in the excitation-inhibition ratio between different branches of the dendritic tree. Many dendritic segments showed no depolarizing signal at all, especially the basal dendrites that received predominantly inhibitory signals. Application of the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline resulted in the spread of depolarizing signals throughout the dendritic tree. Tetanic stimulation of Schaffer collateral inputs induced significant alterations in the patterns of excitation/inhibition, indicating that they are modified by synaptic plasticity. In summary, we show that feedforward inhibition restricts the occurrence of depolarizing signals within the dendritic tree of CA1 pyramidal neurons and thus refines signal integration spatially.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Impaired consciousness has been associated with impaired cortical signal propagation after transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We hypothesised that the reduced current propagation under propofol-induced unresponsiveness is associated with changes in both feedforward and feedback connectivity across the cortical hierarchy. METHODS:Eight subjects underwent left occipital TMS coupled with high-density EEG recordings during wakefulness and propofol-induced unconsciousness. Spectral analysis was applied to responses recorded from sensors overlying six hierarchical cortical sources involved in visual processing. Dynamic causal modelling (DCM) of induced time-frequency responses and evoked response potentials were used to investigate propofol's effects on connectivity between regions. RESULTS:Sensor space analysis demonstrated that propofol reduced both induced and evoked power after TMS in occipital, parietal, and frontal electrodes. Bayesian model selection supported a DCM with hierarchical feedforward and feedback connections. DCM of induced EEG responses revealed that the primary effect of propofol was impaired feedforward responses in cross-frequency theta/alpha-gamma coupling and within frequency theta coupling (F contrast, family-wise error corrected P<0.05). An exploratory analysis (thresholded at uncorrected P<0.001) also suggested that propofol impaired feedforward and feedback beta band coupling. Post hoc analyses showed impairments in all feedforward connections and one feedback connection from parietal to occipital cortex. DCM of the evoked response potential showed impaired feedforward connectivity between left-sided occipital and parietal cortex (T contrast P=0.004, Bonferroni corrected). CONCLUSIONS:Propofol-induced loss of consciousness is associated with impaired hierarchical feedforward connectivity assessed by EEG after occipital TMS.
Project description:Excitation and inhibition are highly specific in the cortex, with distinct synaptic connections made onto subtypes of projection neurons. The functional consequences of this selective connectivity depend on both synaptic strength and the intrinsic properties of targeted neurons but remain poorly understood. Here, we examine responses to callosal inputs at cortico-cortical (CC) and cortico-thalamic (CT) neurons in layer 5 of mouse prelimbic prefrontal cortex (PFC). We find callosally evoked excitation and feedforward inhibition are much stronger at CT neurons compared to neighboring CC neurons. Elevated inhibition at CT neurons reflects biased synaptic inputs from parvalbumin and somatostatin positive interneurons. The intrinsic properties of postsynaptic targets equalize excitatory and inhibitory response amplitudes but selectively accelerate decays at CT neurons. Feedforward inhibition further reduces response amplitude and balances action potential firing across these projection neurons. Our findings highlight the synaptic and cellular mechanisms regulating callosal recruitment of layer 5 microcircuits in PFC.
Project description:Anatomical and physiological experiments have outlined a blueprint for the feedforward flow of activity in cortical circuits: signals are thought to propagate primarily from the middle cortical layer (layer 4, L4) up to L2/3 and down to the major cortical output layer (L5). Pharmacological manipulations, however, have contested this model and have suggested that L4 may not be critical for sensory responses of neurons in either superficial or deep layers. To address these conflicting models, we reversibly manipulated L4 activity in awake, behaving mice using cell type-specific optogenetics. In contrast with both prevailing models, we found that activity in L4 directly suppressed L5, in part by activating deep, fast-spiking inhibitory neurons. Our data suggest that the net effect of L4 activity is to sharpen the spatial representations of L5 neurons. Thus, we establish a previously unknown translaminar inhibitory circuit in the sensory cortex that acts to enhance the feature selectivity of cortical output.
Project description:Feedforward inhibition is ubiquitous as a motif in the organization of neuronal circuits. During sensory information processing, it is traditionally thought to sharpen the responses and temporal tuning of feedforward excitation onto principal neurons. As it often exhibits complex time-varying activation properties, feedforward inhibition could also convey information used by single neurons to implement dendritic computations on sensory stimulus variables. We investigated this possibility in a collision-detecting neuron of the locust optic lobe that receives both feedforward excitation and inhibition. We identified a small population of neurons mediating feedforward inhibition, with wide visual receptive fields and whose responses depend both on the size and speed of moving stimuli. By studying responses to simulated objects approaching on a collision course, we determined that they jointly encode the angular size of expansion of the stimulus. Feedforward excitation, on the other hand, encodes a function of the angular velocity of expansion and the targeted collision-detecting neuron combines these two variables non-linearly in its firing output. Thus, feedforward inhibition actively contributes to the detailed firing-rate time course of this collision-detecting neuron, a feature critical to the appropriate execution of escape behaviors. These results suggest that feedforward inhibition could similarly convey time-varying stimulus information in other neuronal circuits.