Reinforcement determines the timing dependence of corticostriatal synaptic plasticity in vivo.
ABSTRACT: Plasticity at synapses between the cortex and striatum is considered critical for learning novel actions. However, investigations of spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) at these synapses have been performed largely in brain slice preparations, without consideration of physiological reinforcement signals. This has led to conflicting findings, and hampered the ability to relate neural plasticity to behavior. Using intracellular striatal recordings in intact rats, we show here that pairing presynaptic and postsynaptic activity induces robust Hebbian bidirectional plasticity, dependent on dopamine and adenosine signaling. Such plasticity, however, requires the arrival of a reward-conditioned sensory reinforcement signal within 2?s of the STDP pairing, thus revealing a timing-dependent eligibility trace on which reinforcement operates. These observations are validated with both computational modeling and behavioral testing. Our results indicate that Hebbian corticostriatal plasticity can be induced by classical reinforcement learning mechanisms, and might be central to the acquisition of novel actions.Spike timing dependent plasticity (STDP) has been studied extensively in slices but whether such pairings can induce plasticity in vivo is not known. Here the authors report an experimental paradigm that achieves bidirectional corticostriatal STDP in vivo through modulation by behaviourally relevant reinforcement signals, mediated by dopamine and adenosine signaling.
Project description:Behavioural experience, such as environmental enrichment (EE), induces long-term effects on learning and memory. Learning can be assessed with the Hebbian paradigm, such as spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), which relies on the timing of neuronal activity on either side of the synapse. Although EE is known to control neuronal excitability and consequently spike timing, whether EE shapes STDP remains unknown. Here, using in vivo long-duration intracellular recordings at the corticostriatal synapses we show that EE promotes asymmetric anti-Hebbian STDP, i.e. spike-timing-dependent-potentiation (tLTP) for post-pre pairings and spike-timing-dependent-depression (tLTD) for pre-post pairings, whereas animals grown in standard housing show mainly tLTD and a high failure rate of plasticity. Indeed, in adult rats grown in standard conditions, we observed unidirectional plasticity (mainly symmetric anti-Hebbian tLTD) within a large temporal window (~200?ms). However, rats grown for two months in EE displayed a bidirectional STDP (tLTP and tLTD depending on spike timing) in a more restricted temporal window (~100?ms) with low failure rate of plasticity. We also found that the effects of EE on STDP characteristics are influenced by the anaesthesia status: the deeper the anaesthesia, the higher the absence of plasticity. These findings establish a central role for EE and the anaesthetic regime in shaping in vivo, a synaptic Hebbian learning rule such as STDP.
Project description:In Hebbian plasticity, neural circuits adjust their synaptic weights depending on patterned firing. Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), a synaptic Hebbian learning rule, relies on the order and timing of the paired activities in pre- and postsynaptic neurons. Classically, in ex vivo experiments, STDP is assessed with deterministic (constant) spike timings and time intervals between successive pairings, thus exhibiting a regularity that differs from biological variability. Hence, STDP emergence from noisy inputs as occurring in in vivo-like firing remains unresolved. Here, we used noisy STDP pairings where the spike timing and/or interval between pairings were jittered. We explored with electrophysiology and mathematical modeling, the impact of jitter on three forms of STDP at corticostriatal synapses: NMDAR-LTP, endocannabinoid-LTD and endocannabinoid-LTP. We found that NMDAR-LTP was highly fragile to jitter, whereas endocannabinoid-plasticity appeared more resistant. When the frequency or number of pairings was increased, NMDAR-LTP became more robust and could be expressed despite strong jittering. Our results identify endocannabinoid-plasticity as a robust form of STDP, whereas the sensitivity to jitter of NMDAR-LTP varies with activity frequency. This provides new insights into the mechanisms at play during the different phases of learning and memory and the emergence of Hebbian plasticity in in vivo-like activity.
Project description:Plasticity at corticostriatal synapses is thought to underlie both normal and aberrant forms of reinforcement-driven learning. Studies in brain slices have found bidirectional, spike-timing dependent plasticity in striatum; however it is not known whether similar rules govern corticostriatal plasticity in awake behaving animals. To assess whether behavioral state is a key regulator of plasticity in this pathway, we examined the effects of 5 Hz cortical stimulation trains on evoked striatal field potentials, in either anesthetized or awake, unrestrained rats. Consistent with prior studies we observed long-term potentiation in intact, barbiturate-anesthetized animals. However, when an identical stimulation pattern was applied to the same animals while awake, long-term depression was observed instead. Our results demonstrate that the rules governing corticostriatal plasticity depend critically on behavioral state, and suggest that the dynamic context of cortical-basal ganglia loops must be considered while investigating synaptic mechanisms underlying reinforcement learning and neurological disorders.
Project description:Synaptic efficacy changes, long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD), underlie various forms of learning and memory. Synaptic plasticity is generally assessed under prolonged activation, whereas learning can emerge from few or even a single trial. Here, we investigated the existence of rapid responsiveness of synaptic plasticity in response to a few number of spikes, in neocortex in a synaptic Hebbian learning rule, the spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). We investigated the effect of lowering the number of pairings from 100 to 50, and 10 on STDP expression, using whole-cell recordings from pyramidal cells in rodent somatosensory cortical brain slices. We found that a low number of paired stimulations induces LTP at neocortical layer 4-2/3 synapses. Besides the asymmetric Hebbian STDP reported in the neocortex induced by 100 pairings, we observed a symmetric anti-Hebbian LTD for 50 pairings and unveiled a unidirectional Hebbian spike-timing-dependent LTP (tLTP) induced by 10-15 pairings. This tLTP was not mediated by NMDA receptor activation but requires CB1 receptors and transient receptor potential vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1) activated by endocannabinoids (eCBs). eCBs have been widely described as mediating short- and long-term synaptic depression. Here, the eCB-tLTP reported at neocortical synapses could constitute a substrate operating in the online learning of new associative memories or during the initial stages of learning. In addition, these findings should provide useful insight into the mechanisms underlying eCB-plasticity occurring during marijuana intoxication.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Action potentials are thought to be determinant for the induction of long-term synaptic plasticity, the cellular basis of learning and memory. However, neuronal activity does not lead systematically to an action potential but also, in many cases, to synaptic depolarizing subthreshold events. This is particularly exemplified in corticostriatal information processing. Indeed, the striatum integrates information from the whole cerebral cortex and, due to the membrane properties of striatal medium spiny neurons, cortical inputs do not systematically trigger an action potential but a wide range of subthreshold postsynaptic depolarizations. Accordingly, we have addressed the following question: does a brief subthreshold event act as a Hebbian signal and induce long-term synaptic efficacy changes? METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Here, using perforated patch-clamp recordings on rat brain corticostriatal slices, we demonstrate, that brief (30 ms) subthreshold depolarizing events in quasi-coincidence with presynaptic activity can act as Hebbian signals and are sufficient to induce long-term synaptic plasticity at corticostriatal synapses. This "subthreshold-depolarization dependent plasticity" (SDDP) induces strong, significant and bidirectional long-term synaptic efficacy changes at a very high occurrence (81%) for time intervals between pre- and postsynaptic stimulations (Deltat) of -110<Deltat<+110 ms. Such subthreshold depolarizations are able to induce robust long-term depression (cannabinoid type-1 receptor-activation dependent) as well as long-term potentiation (NMDA receptor-activation dependent). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE:Our data show the existence of a robust, reliable and timing-dependent bidirectional long-term plasticity induced by brief subthreshold events paired with presynaptic activity. The existence of a subthreshold-depolarization dependent plasticity extends considerably, beyond the action potential, the neuron's capabilities to express long-term synaptic efficacy changes.
Project description:Synapses may undergo long-term increases or decreases in synaptic strength dependent on critical differences in the timing between pre-and postsynaptic activity. Such spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) follows rules that govern how patterns of neural activity induce changes in synaptic strength. Synaptic plasticity in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) follows Hebbian and anti-Hebbian patterns in a cell-specific manner. Here we show that these opposing responses to synaptic activity result from differential expression of two signaling pathways. Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) signaling underlies Hebbian postsynaptic LTP in principal cells. By contrast, in interneurons, a temporally precise anti-Hebbian synaptic spike-timing rule results from the combined effects of postsynaptic CaMKII-dependent LTP and endocannabinoid-dependent presynaptic LTD. Cell specificity in the circuit arises from selective targeting of presynaptic CB1 receptors in different axonal terminals. Hence, pre- and postsynaptic sites of expression determine both the sign and timing requirements of long-term plasticity in interneurons.
Project description:Synaptic plasticity is a cardinal cellular mechanism for learning and memory. The endocannabinoid (eCB) system has emerged as a pivotal pathway for synaptic plasticity because of its widely characterized ability to depress synaptic transmission on short- and long-term scales. Recent reports indicate that eCBs also mediate potentiation of the synapse. However, it is not known how eCB signaling may support bidirectionality. Here, we combined electrophysiology experiments with mathematical modeling to question the mechanisms of eCB bidirectionality in spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) at corticostriatal synapses. We demonstrate that STDP outcome is controlled by eCB levels and dynamics: prolonged and moderate levels of eCB lead to eCB-mediated long-term depression (eCB-tLTD) while short and large eCB transients produce eCB-mediated long-term potentiation (eCB-tLTP). Moreover, we show that eCB-tLTD requires active calcineurin whereas eCB-tLTP necessitates the activity of presynaptic PKA. Therefore, just like glutamate or GABA, eCB form a bidirectional system to encode learning and memory.
Project description:Astrocytes, via excitatory amino-acid transporter type-2 (EAAT2), are the major sink for released glutamate and contribute to set the strength and timing of synaptic inputs. The conditions required for the emergence of Hebbian plasticity from distributed neural activity remain elusive. Here, we investigate the role of EAAT2 in the expression of a major physiologically relevant form of Hebbian learning, spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). We find that a transient blockade of EAAT2 disrupts the temporal contingency required for Hebbian synaptic plasticity. Indeed, STDP is replaced by aberrant non-timing-dependent plasticity occurring for uncorrelated events. Conversely, EAAT2 overexpression impairs the detection of correlated activity and precludes STDP expression. Our findings demonstrate that EAAT2 sets the appropriate glutamate dynamics for the optimal temporal contingency between pre- and postsynaptic activity required for STDP emergence, and highlight the role of astrocytes as gatekeepers for Hebbian synaptic plasticity.
Project description:Spike-Timing Dependent Plasticity (STDP) is characterized by a wide range of temporal kernels. However, much of the theoretical work has focused on a specific kernel - the "temporally asymmetric Hebbian" learning rules. Previous studies linked excitatory STDP to positive feedback that can account for the emergence of response selectivity. Inhibitory plasticity was associated with negative feedback that can balance the excitatory and inhibitory inputs. Here we study the possible computational role of the temporal structure of the STDP. We represent the STDP as a superposition of two processes: potentiation and depression. This allows us to model a wide range of experimentally observed STDP kernels, from Hebbian to anti-Hebbian, by varying a single parameter. We investigate STDP dynamics of a single excitatory or inhibitory synapse in purely feed-forward architecture. We derive a mean-field-Fokker-Planck dynamics for the synaptic weight and analyze the effect of STDP structure on the fixed points of the mean field dynamics. We find a phase transition along the Hebbian to anti-Hebbian parameter from a phase that is characterized by a unimodal distribution of the synaptic weight, in which the STDP dynamics is governed by negative feedback, to a phase with positive feedback characterized by a bimodal distribution. The critical point of this transition depends on general properties of the STDP dynamics and not on the fine details. Namely, the dynamics is affected by the pre-post correlations only via a single number that quantifies its overlap with the STDP kernel. We find that by manipulating the STDP temporal kernel, negative feedback can be induced in excitatory synapses and positive feedback in inhibitory. Moreover, there is an exact symmetry between inhibitory and excitatory plasticity, i.e., for every STDP rule of inhibitory synapse there exists an STDP rule for excitatory synapse, such that their dynamics is identical.
Project description:Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) is considered a physiologically relevant form of Hebbian learning. However, behavioral learning often involves action of reinforcement or reward signals such as dopamine. Here, we examined how dopamine influences the quantitative rule of STDP at glutamatergic synapses of hippocampal neurons. The presence of 20 muM dopamine during paired pre- and postsynaptic spiking activity expanded the effective time window for timing-dependent long-term potentiation (t-LTP) to at least -45 ms, and allowed normally ineffective weak stimuli with fewer spike pairs to induce significant t-LTP. Meanwhile, dopamine did not affect the degree of t-LTP induced by normal strong stimuli with spike timing (ST) of +10 ms. Such dopamine-dependent enhancement in the sensitivity of t-LTP was completely blocked by the D1-like dopamine receptor antagonist SCH23390, but not by the D2-like dopamine receptor antagonist sulpiride. Surprisingly, timing-dependent long-term depression (t-LTD) at negative ST was converted into t-LTP by dopamine treatment; this conversion was also blocked by SCH23390. In addition, t-LTP in the presence of dopamine was completely blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid, indicating that D1-like receptor-mediated modulation appears to act through the classical NMDA receptor-mediated signaling pathway that underlies STDP. These results provide a quantitative and mechanistic basis for a previously undescribed learning rule that depends on pre- and postsynaptic ST, as well as the global reward signal.