Real Time Multiplicative Memory Amplification Mediated by Whole-Cell Scaling of Synaptic Response in Key Neurons.
ABSTRACT: Intense spiking response of a memory-pattern is believed to play a crucial role both in normal learning and pathology, where it can create biased behavior. We recently proposed a novel model for memory amplification where the simultaneous two-fold increase of all excitatory (AMPAR-mediated) and inhibitory (GABAAR-mediated) synapses in a sub-group of cells that constitutes a memory-pattern selectively amplifies this memory. Here we confirm the cellular basis of this model by validating its major predictions in four sets of experiments, and demonstrate its induction via a whole-cell transduction mechanism. Subsequently, using theory and simulations, we show that this whole-cell two-fold increase of all inhibitory and excitatory synapses functions as an instantaneous and multiplicative amplifier of the neurons' spiking. The amplification mechanism acts through multiplication of the net synaptic current, where it scales both the average and the standard deviation of the current. In the excitation-inhibition balance regime, this scaling creates a linear multiplicative amplifier of the cell's spiking response. Moreover, the direct scaling of the synaptic input enables the amplification of the spiking response to be synchronized with rapid changes in synaptic input, and to be independent of previous spiking activity. These traits enable instantaneous real-time amplification during brief elevations of excitatory synaptic input. Furthermore, the multiplicative nature of the amplifier ensures that the net effect of the amplification is large mainly when the synaptic input is mostly excitatory. When induced on all cells that comprise a memory-pattern, these whole-cell modifications enable a substantial instantaneous amplification of the memory-pattern when the memory is activated. The amplification mechanism is induced by CaMKII dependent phosphorylation that doubles the conductance of all GABAA and AMPA receptors in a subset of neurons. This whole-cell transduction mechanism enables both long-term induction of memory amplification when necessary and extinction when not further required.
Project description:Hippocampal place cells contribute to mammalian spatial navigation and memory formation. Numerous models have been proposed to explain the location-specific firing of this cognitive representation, but the pattern of excitatory synaptic input leading to place firing is unknown, leaving no synaptic-scale explanation of place coding. Here we used resonant scanning two-photon microscopy to establish the pattern of synaptic glutamate input received by CA1 place cells in behaving mice. During traversals of the somatic place field, we found increased excitatory dendritic input, mainly arising from inputs with spatial tuning overlapping the somatic field, and functional clustering of this input along the dendrites over ~10 µm. These results implicate increases in total excitatory input and co-activation of anatomically clustered synaptic input in place firing. Since they largely inherit their fields from upstream synaptic partners with similar fields, many CA1 place cells appear to be part of multi-brain-region cell assemblies forming representations of specific locations.
Project description:Olfactory-discrimination learning was shown to induce a profound long-lasting enhancement in the strength of excitatory and inhibitory synapses of pyramidal neurons in the piriform cortex. Notably, such enhancement was mostly pronounced in a sub-group of neurons, entailing about a quarter of the cell population. Here we first show that the prominent enhancement in the subset of cells is due to a process in which all excitatory synapses doubled their strength and that this increase was mediated by a single process in which the AMPA channel conductance was doubled. Moreover, using a neuronal-network model, we show how such a multiplicative whole-cell synaptic strengthening in a sub-group of cells that form a memory pattern, sub-serves a profound selective enhancement of this memory. Network modeling further predicts that synaptic inhibition should be modified by complex learning in a manner that much resembles synaptic excitation. Indeed, in a subset of neurons all GABAA-receptors mediated inhibitory synapses also doubled their strength after learning. Like synaptic excitation, Synaptic inhibition is also enhanced by two-fold increase of the single channel conductance. These findings suggest that crucial learning induces a multiplicative increase in strength of all excitatory and inhibitory synapses in a subset of cells, and that such an increase can serve as a long-term whole-cell mechanism to profoundly enhance an existing Hebbian-type memory. This mechanism does not act as synaptic plasticity mechanism that underlies memory formation but rather enhances the response of already existing memory. This mechanism is cell-specific rather than synapse-specific; it modifies the channel conductance rather than the number of channels and thus has the potential to be readily induced and un-induced by whole-cell transduction mechanisms.
Project description:The hippocampus, as part of the cerebral cortex, is essential for memory formation and spatial navigation. Although it has been extensively studied, especially as a model system for neurophysiology, the cellular processes involved in constructing and organizing the hippocampus remain largely unclear. Here, we show that clonally related excitatory neurons in the developing hippocampus are progressively organized into discrete horizontal, but not vertical, clusters in the stratum pyramidale, as revealed by both cell-type-specific retroviral labeling and mosaic analysis with double markers (MADM). Moreover, distinct from those in the neocortex, sister excitatory neurons in the cornu ammonis 1 region of the hippocampus rarely develop electrical or chemical synapses with each other. Instead, they preferentially receive common synaptic input from nearby fast-spiking (FS), but not non-FS, interneurons and exhibit synchronous synaptic activity. These results suggest that shared inhibitory input may specify horizontally clustered sister excitatory neurons as functional units in the hippocampus.
Project description:How homeostatic processes contribute to map plasticity and stability in sensory cortex is not well-understood. Classically, sensory deprivation first drives rapid Hebbian weakening of spiking responses to deprived inputs, which is followed days later by a slow homeostatic increase in spiking responses mediated by excitatory synaptic scaling. Recently, more rapid homeostasis by inhibitory circuit plasticity has been discovered in visual cortex, but whether this process occurs in other brain areas is not known. We tested for rapid homeostasis in layer 2/3 (L2/3) of rodent somatosensory cortex, where D-row whisker deprivation drives Hebbian weakening of whisker-evoked spiking responses after an unexplained initial delay, but no homeostasis of deprived whisker responses is known. We hypothesized that the delay reflects rapid homeostasis through disinhibition, which masks the onset of Hebbian weakening of L2/3 excitatory input. We found that deprivation (3 d) transiently increased whisker-evoked spiking responses in L2/3 single units before classical Hebbian weakening (?5 d), whereas whisker-evoked synaptic input was reduced during both periods. This finding suggests a transient homeostatic increase in L2/3 excitability. In whole-cell recordings from L2/3 neurons in vivo, brief deprivation decreased whisker-evoked inhibition more than excitation and increased the excitation-inhibition ratio. In contrast, synaptic scaling and increased intrinsic excitability were absent. Thus, disinhibition is a rapid homeostatic plasticity mechanism in rodent somatosensory cortex that transiently maintains whisker-evoked spiking in L2/3, despite the onset of Hebbian weakening of excitatory input.
Project description:Neuroligins are cell adhesion molecules involved in synapse formation and/or function. Neurons express four neuroligins (NL1-NL4), of which NL1 is specific to excitatory and NL2 to inhibitory synapses. Excitatory and inhibitory synapses include numerous subtypes. However, it is unknown whether NL1 performs similar functions in all excitatory and NL2 in all inhibitory synapses, or whether they regulate the formation and/or function of specific subsets of synapses. To address this central question, we performed paired recordings in primary somatosensory cortex of mice lacking NL1 or NL2. Using this system, we examined neocortical microcircuits formed by reciprocal synapses between excitatory neurons and two subtypes of inhibitory interneurons, namely, fast-spiking and somatostatin-positive interneurons. We find that the NL1 deletion had little effect on inhibitory synapses, whereas the NL2 deletion decreased (40-50%) the unitary (cell-to-cell) IPSC amplitude evoked from single fast-spiking interneurons. Strikingly, the NL2 deletion had no effect on IPSC amplitude evoked from single somatostatin-positive inhibitory interneurons. Moreover, the frequency of unitary synaptic connections between individual fast-spiking and somatostatin-positive interneurons and excitatory neurons was unchanged. The decrease in unitary IPSC amplitude originating from fast-spiking interneurons in NL2-deficient mice was due to a multiplicative and uniform downscaling of the amplitude distribution, which in turn was mediated by a decrease in both synaptic quantal amplitude and quantal content, the latter inferred from an increase in the coefficient of variation. Thus, NL2 is not necessary for establishing unitary inhibitory synaptic connections but is selectively required for "scaling up" unitary connections originating from a subset of interneurons.
Project description:Significant inroads have been made to understand cerebellar cortical processing but neural coding at the output stage of the cerebellum in the deep cerebellar nuclei (DCN) remains poorly understood. The DCN are unlikely to just present a relay nucleus because Purkinje cell inhibition has to be turned into an excitatory output signal, and DCN neurons exhibit complex intrinsic properties. In particular, DCN neurons exhibit a range of rebound spiking properties following hyperpolarizing current injection, raising the question how this could contribute to signal processing in behaving animals. Computer modeling presents an ideal tool to investigate how intrinsic voltage-gated conductances in DCN neurons could generate the heterogeneous firing behavior observed, and what input conditions could result in rebound responses. To enable such an investigation we built a compartmental DCN neuron model with a full dendritic morphology and appropriate active conductances. We generated a good match of our simulations with DCN current clamp data we recorded in acute slices, including the heterogeneity in the rebound responses. We then examined how inhibitory and excitatory synaptic input interacted with these intrinsic conductances to control DCN firing. We found that the output spiking of the model reflected the ongoing balance of excitatory and inhibitory input rates and that changing the level of inhibition performed an additive operation. Rebound firing following strong Purkinje cell input bursts was also possible, but only if the chloride reversal potential was more negative than -70 mV to allow de-inactivation of rebound currents. Fast rebound bursts due to T-type calcium current and slow rebounds due to persistent sodium current could be differentially regulated by synaptic input, and the pattern of these rebounds was further influenced by HCN current. Our findings suggest that active properties of DCN neurons could play a crucial role for signal processing in the cerebellum.
Project description:Homeostatic plasticity encompasses a set of mechanisms that are thought to stabilize firing rates in neural circuits. The most widely studied form of homeostatic plasticity is upward synaptic scaling (upscaling), characterized by a multiplicative increase in the strength of excitatory synaptic inputs to a neuron as a compensatory response to chronic reductions in firing rate. While reduced spiking is thought to trigger upscaling, an alternative possibility is that reduced glutamatergic transmission generates this plasticity directly. However, spiking and neurotransmission are tightly coupled, so it has been difficult to determine their independent roles in the scaling process. Here we combined chronic multielectrode recording, closed-loop optogenetic stimulation, and pharmacology to show that reduced glutamatergic transmission directly triggers cell-wide synaptic upscaling. This work highlights the importance of synaptic activity in initiating signalling cascades that mediate upscaling. Moreover, our findings challenge the prevailing view that upscaling functions to homeostatically stabilize firing rates.
Project description:Enhanced receptiveness at all synapses on a neuron that receive glutamatergic input is called cell-wide synaptic upscaling. We hypothesize that this type of synaptic plasticity may be critical for long-term memory storage within cortical circuits, a process that may also depend on epigenetic mechanisms, such as covalent chemical modification of DNA. We found that DNA cytosine demethylation mediates multiplicative synaptic upscaling of glutamatergic synaptic strength in cultured cortical neurons. Inhibiting neuronal activity with tetrodotoxin (TTX) decreased the cytosine methylation of and increased the expression of genes encoding glutamate receptors and trafficking proteins, in turn increasing the amplitude but not frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), indicating synaptic upscaling rather than increased spontaneous activity. Inhibiting DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity, either by using the small-molecule inhibitor RG108 or by knocking down Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a, induced synaptic upscaling to a similar magnitude as exposure to TTX. Moreover, upscaling induced by DNMT inhibition required transcription; the RNA polymerase inhibitor actinomycin D blocked upscaling induced by DNMT inhibition. Knocking down the cytosine demethylase TET1 also blocked the upscaling effects of RG108. DNMT inhibition induced a multiplicative increase in mEPSC amplitude, indicating that the alterations in glutamate receptor abundance occurred in a coordinated manner throughout a neuron and were not limited to individual active synapses. Our data suggest that DNA methylation status controls transcription-dependent regulation of glutamatergic synaptic homeostasis. Furthermore, covalent DNA modifications may contribute to synaptic plasticity events that underlie the formation and stabilization of memories.
Project description:The medial prefrontal cortex plays a key role in higher order cognitive functions like decision making and social cognition. These complex behaviors emerge from the coordinated firing of prefrontal neurons. Fast-spiking interneurons (FSIs) control the timing of excitatory neuron firing via somatic inhibition and generate gamma (30-100 Hz) oscillations. Therefore, factors that regulate how FSIs respond to gamma-frequency input could affect both prefrontal circuit activity and behavior. Here, we show that serotonin (5HT), which is known to regulate gamma power, acts via 5HT2A receptors to suppress an inward-rectifying potassium conductance in FSIs. This leads to depolarization, increased input resistance, enhanced spiking, and slowed decay of excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSPs). Notably, we found that slowed EPSP decay preferentially enhanced temporal summation and firing elicited by gamma frequency inputs. These findings show how changes in passive membrane properties can affect not only neuronal excitability but also the temporal filtering of synaptic inputs.
Project description:The ability of cortical neurons to accurately encode the temporal pattern of their inputs has important consequences for cortical function and perceptual acuity. Here we identify cellular mechanisms underlying the sensitivity of cortical neurons to the timing of sensory-evoked synaptic inputs. We find that temporally coincident inputs to layer 4 neurons in primary visual cortex evoke an increase in spike precision and supralinear spike summation. Underlying this nonlinear summation are changes in the evoked excitatory conductance and the associated membrane potential response, and a lengthening of the window between excitation and inhibition. Furthermore, fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons in layer 4 exhibit a shorter window of temporal sensitivity compared with excitatory neurons. In contrast to the enhanced response to synchronous inputs by layer 4 neurons, sensory input integration in downstream cortical layers is more linear and less sensitive to timing. Neurons in the input layer of cortex are thus uniquely optimized to detect and encode synchronous sensory-evoked inputs.