Optogenetic stimulation of cortex to map evoked whisker movements in awake head-restrained mice.
ABSTRACT: Whisker movements are used by rodents to touch objects in order to extract spatial and textural tactile information about their immediate surroundings. To understand the mechanisms of such active sensorimotor processing it is important to investigate whisker motor control. The activity of neurons in the neocortex affects whisker movements, but many aspects of the organization of cortical whisker motor control remain unknown. Here, we filmed whisker movements evoked by sequential optogenetic stimulation of different locations across the left dorsal sensorimotor cortex of awake head-restrained mice. Whisker movements were evoked by optogenetic stimulation of many regions in the dorsal sensorimotor cortex. Optogenetic stimulation of whisker sensory barrel cortex evoked retraction of the contralateral whisker after a short latency, and a delayed rhythmic protraction of the ipsilateral whisker. Optogenetic stimulation of frontal cortex evoked rhythmic bilateral whisker protraction with a longer latency compared to stimulation of sensory cortex. Compared to frontal cortex stimulation, larger amplitude bilateral rhythmic whisking in a less protracted position was evoked at a similar latency by stimulating a cortical region posterior to Bregma and close to the midline. These data suggest that whisker motor control might be broadly distributed across the dorsal mouse sensorimotor cortex. Future experiments must investigate the complex neuronal circuits connecting specific cell-types in various cortical regions with the whisker motor neurons located in the facial nucleus.
Project description:Frontal cortex plays a central role in the control of voluntary movements, which are typically guided by sensory input. Here, we investigate the function of mouse whisker primary motor cortex (wM1), a frontal region defined by dense innervation from whisker primary somatosensory cortex (wS1). Optogenetic stimulation of wM1 evokes rhythmic whisker protraction (whisking), whereas optogenetic inactivation of wM1 suppresses initiation of whisking. Whole-cell membrane potential recordings and silicon probe recordings of action potentials reveal layer-specific neuronal activity in wM1 at movement initiation, and encoding of fast and slow parameters of movements during whisking. Interestingly, optogenetic inactivation of wS1 caused hyperpolarization and reduced firing in wM1, together with reduced whisking. Optogenetic stimulation of wS1 drove activity in wM1 with complex dynamics, as well as evoking long-latency, wM1-dependent whisking. Our results advance understanding of a well-defined frontal region and point to an important role for sensory input in controlling motor cortex.
Project description:We discovered that optical stimulation of the mystacial pad in Emx1-Cre;Ai27D transgenic mice induces whisker movements due to activation of ChR2 expressed in muscles controlling retraction and protraction. Using high-speed videography in anesthetized mice, we characterize the amplitude of whisker protractions evoked by varying the intensity, duration, and frequency of optogenetic stimulation. Recordings from primary somatosensory cortex (S1) in anesthetized mice indicated that optogenetic whisker pad stimulation evokes robust yet longer latency responses than mechanical whisker stimulation. In head-fixed mice trained to report optogenetic whisker pad stimulation, psychometric curves showed similar dependence on stimulus duration as evoked whisker movements and S1 activity. Furthermore, optogenetic stimulation of S1 in expert mice was sufficient to substitute for peripheral stimulation. We conclude that whisker protractions evoked by optogenetic activation of whisker pad muscles results in cortical activity and sensory perception, consistent with the coding of evoked whisker movements by reafferent sensory input.
Project description:Anatomical, stimulation and lesion data implicate vibrissa motor cortex in whisker motor control. Work on motor cortex has focused on movement generation, but correlations between vibrissa motor cortex activity and whisking are weak. The exact role of vibrissa motor cortex remains unknown. We recorded vibrissa motor cortex neurons during various forms of vibrissal touch, which were invariably associated with whisker protraction and movement. Free whisking, object palpation and social touch all resulted in decreased cortical activity. To understand this activity decrease, we performed juxtacellular recordings, nanostimulation and in vivo whole-cell recordings. Social touch resulted in decreased spiking activity, decreased cell excitability and membrane hyperpolarization. Activation of vibrissa motor cortex by intracortical microstimulation elicited whisker retraction, as if to abort vibrissal touch. Various vibrissa motor cortex inactivation protocols resulted in contralateral protraction and increased whisker movements. These data collectively point to movement suppression as a prime function of vibrissa motor cortex activity.
Project description:This study tested the role of the superior colliculus in generating movements of the mystacial vibrissae--whisking. First, we compared the kinematics of whisking generated by the superior colliculus with those generated by the motor cortex. We found that in anesthetized rats, microstimulation of the colliculus evoked a sustained vibrissa protraction, whereas stimulation of motor cortex produced rhythmic protractions. Movements generated by the superior colliculus are independent of motor cortex and can be evoked at lower thresholds and shorter latencies than those generated by the motor cortex. Next we tested the hypothesis that the colliculus is acting as a simple reflex loop with the neurons that drive vibrissa movement receiving sensory input evoked by vibrissa contacts. We found that most tecto-facial neurons do not receive sensory input. Not only did these neurons not spike in response to sensory stimulation, but field potential analysis revealed that subthreshold sensory inputs do not overlap spatially with tecto-facial neurons. Together these findings suggest that the superior colliculus plays a pivotal role in vibrissa movement--regulating vibrissa set point and whisk amplitude--but does not function as a simple reflex loop. With the motor cortex controlling the whisking frequency, the superior colliculus control of set point and amplitude would account for the main parameters of voluntary whisking.
Project description:The spatial organization of mouse frontal cortex is poorly understood. Here, we used voltage-sensitive dye to image electrical activity in the dorsal cortex of awake head-restrained mice. Whisker-deflection evoked the earliest sensory response in a localized region of primary somatosensory cortex and visual stimulation evoked the earliest responses in a localized region of primary visual cortex. Over the next milliseconds, the initial sensory response spread within the respective primary sensory cortex and into the surrounding higher order sensory cortices. In addition, secondary hotspots in the frontal cortex were evoked by whisker and visual stimulation, with the frontal hotspot for whisker deflection being more anterior and lateral compared to the frontal hotspot evoked by visual stimulation. Investigating axonal projections, we found that the somatosensory whisker cortex and the visual cortex directly innervated frontal cortex, with visual cortex axons innervating a region medial and posterior to the innervation from somatosensory cortex, consistent with the location of sensory responses in frontal cortex. In turn, the axonal outputs of these two frontal cortical areas innervate distinct regions of striatum, superior colliculus, and brainstem. Sensory input, therefore, appears to map onto modality-specific regions of frontal cortex, perhaps participating in distinct sensorimotor transformations, and directing distinct motor outputs.
Project description:The striatum is the main input nucleus of the basal ganglia and is a key site of sensorimotor integration. While the striatum receives extensive excitatory afferents from the cerebral cortex, the influence of different cortical areas on striatal circuitry and behavior is unknown. Here, we find that corticostriatal inputs from whisker-related primary somatosensory (S1) and motor (M1) cortex differentially innervate projection neurons and interneurons in the dorsal striatum and exert opposing effects on sensory-guided behavior. Optogenetic stimulation of S1-corticostriatal afferents in ex vivo recordings produced larger postsynaptic potentials in striatal parvalbumin (PV)-expressing interneurons than D1- or D2-expressing spiny projection neurons (SPNs), an effect not observed for M1-corticostriatal afferents. Critically, in vivo optogenetic stimulation of S1-corticostriatal afferents produced task-specific behavioral inhibition, which was bidirectionally modulated by striatal PV interneurons. Optogenetic stimulation of M1 afferents produced the opposite behavioral effect. Thus, our results suggest opposing roles for sensory and motor cortex in behavioral choice via distinct influences on striatal circuitry.
Project description:The functional state of denervated muscle is a critical factor in the ability to restore movement after injury- or disease-related paralysis. Here we used peripheral optogenetic stimulation in the mouse whisker system to investigate the time course of changes in nerve and muscle function following facial nerve transection. While most skeletal muscles atrophy after lower motor neuron denervation, optogenetic muscle stimulation of the paralyzed whisker pad revealed sustained increases in the sensitivity, velocity, and amplitude of whisker movements, and reduced fatigability, starting 48 h after denervation. Transcriptome profiling showed distinct regulation of multiple gene families in denervated whisker pad muscles compared to the atrophy-prone soleus, including prominent changes in ion channels and contractile fibers. Together, our results define the functional and transcriptomic landscape of muscle denervation supersensensitivty, and have implications for restoring movement after neuromuscular injury or disease. Overall design: RNA-seq of intact or lesioned skin and muscle from rostral whisker pad.
Project description:Goal-directed behavior involves distributed neuronal circuits in the mammalian brain, including diverse regions of neocortex. However, the cellular basis of long-range cortico-cortical signaling during goal-directed behavior is poorly understood. Here, we recorded membrane potential of excitatory layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in primary somatosensory barrel cortex (S1) projecting to either primary motor cortex (M1) or secondary somatosensory cortex (S2) during a whisker detection task, in which thirsty mice learn to lick for water reward in response to a whisker deflection. Whisker stimulation in 'Good performer' mice, but not 'Naive' mice, evoked long-lasting biphasic depolarization correlated with task performance in S2-projecting (S2-p) neurons, but not M1-projecting (M1-p) neurons. Furthermore, S2-p neurons, but not M1-p neurons, became excited during spontaneous unrewarded licking in 'Good performer' mice, but not in 'Naive' mice. Thus, a learning-induced, projection-specific signal from S1 to S2 may contribute to goal-directed sensorimotor transformation of whisker sensation into licking motor output.
Project description:The functional state of denervated muscle is a critical factor in the ability to restore movement after injury- or disease-related paralysis. Here we used peripheral optogenetic stimulation and transcriptome profiling in the mouse whisker system to investigate the time course of changes in neuromuscular function following complete unilateral facial nerve transection. While most skeletal muscles rapidly lose functionality after lower motor neuron denervation, optogenetic muscle stimulation of the paralyzed whisker pad revealed sustained increases in the sensitivity, velocity, and amplitude of whisker movements, and reduced fatigability, starting 48 h after denervation. RNA-seq analysis showed distinct regulation of multiple gene families in denervated whisker pad muscles compared with the atrophy-prone soleus, including prominent changes in ion channels and contractile fibers. Together, our results define the unique functional and transcriptomic landscape of denervated facial muscles and have general implications for restoring movement after neuromuscular injury or disease. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Optogenetic activation of muscle can be used to noninvasively induce movements and probe muscle function. We used this technique in mice to investigate changes in whisker movements following facial nerve transection. We found unexpectedly enhanced functional properties of whisker pad muscle following denervation, accompanied by unique transcriptomic changes. Our findings highlight the utility of the mouse whisker pad for investigating the restoration of movement after paralysis.
Project description:Sensory processing in neocortex is primarily driven by glutamatergic excitation, which is counterbalanced by GABAergic inhibition, mediated by a diversity of largely local inhibitory interneurons. Here, we trained mice to lick a reward spout in response to whisker deflection, and we recorded from genetically defined GABAergic inhibitory neurons in layer 2/3 of the primary somatosensory barrel cortex. Parvalbumin-expressing (PV), vasoactive intestinal peptide-expressing (VIP), and somatostatin-expressing (SST) neurons displayed distinct action potential firing dynamics during task performance. Whereas SST neurons fired at low rates, both PV and VIP neurons fired at high rates both spontaneously and in response to whisker stimulation. After an initial outcome-invariant early sensory response, PV neurons had lower firing rates in hit trials compared to miss trials. Optogenetic inhibition of PV neurons during this time period enhanced behavioral performance. Hence, PV neuron activity might contribute causally to gating the sensorimotor transformation of a whisker sensory stimulus into licking motor output.