An understanding of how the brain processes information requires knowledge of the architecture of its underlying neuronal circuits, as well as insights into the relationship between architecture and physiological function. A range of sophisticated tools is needed to acquire this knowledge, and recombinant rabies virus (RABV) is becoming an increasingly important part of this essential toolbox. RABV has been recognized for years for its properties as a synapse-specific trans-neuronal tracer. A novel genetically modified variant now enables the investigation of specific monosynaptic connections. This technology, in combination with other genetic, physiological, optical, and computational tools, has enormous potential for the visualization of neuronal circuits, and for monitoring and manipulating their activity. Here we will summarize the latest developments in this fast moving field and provide a perspective for the use of this technology for the dissection of neuronal circuit structure and function in the normal and diseased brain.
connectivity; wiring diagram; neuronal tracer; synapses; monosynaptic
Rodent whisking is an exploratory behavior that can be modified by sensory feedback. Consistent with this, many whisker-sensitive cortical regions project to agranular motor [motor cortex (MI)] cortex, but the relative topography of these afferent projections has not been established. Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) evokes whisker movements that are used to map the functional organization of MI, but no study has compared the whisker-related inputs to MI with the ICMS sites that evoke whisker movements. To elucidate this relationship, anterograde tracers were placed in posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and in the primary somatosensory (SI) and secondary somatosensory (SII) cortical areas so that their labeled projections to MI could be analyzed with respect to ICMS sites that evoke whisker movements. Projections from SI and SII terminate in a narrow zone that marks the transition between the medial agranular (AGm) and lateral agranular (AGl) cortical areas, but PPC projects more medially and terminates in AGm proper. Paired recordings of MI neurons indicate that the region between AGm and AGl is highly responsive to whisker deflections, but neurons in AGm display negligible responses to whisker stimulation. By contrast, AGm microstimulation is more effective in evoking whisker movements than microstimulation of the transitional region between AGm and AGl. The AGm region was also found to contain a larger concentration of corticotectal neurons, which could convey whisker-related information to the facial nucleus. These results indicate that rat whisker MI is comprised of at least two functionally distinct subregions: a sensory processing zone in the transitional region between AGm and AGl, and a motor-output region located more medially in AGm proper.
motor cortex; neuronal tracing; sensorimotor; intracortical microstimulation; somatosensory cortex
The circadian clock and homeostatic processes are fundamental mechanisms that regulate sleep. Surprisingly, despite decades of research, we still do not know why we sleep. Intriguing hypotheses suggest that sleep regulates synaptic plasticity and consequently has a beneficial role in learning and memory. However, direct evidence is still limited and the molecular regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. The zebrafish provides a powerful vertebrate model system that enables simple genetic manipulation, imaging of neuronal circuits and synapses in living animals, and the monitoring of behavioral performance during day and night. Thus, the zebrafish has become an attractive model to study circadian and homeostatic processes that regulate sleep. Zebrafish clock- and sleep-related genes have been cloned, neuronal circuits that exhibit circadian rhythms of activity and synaptic plasticity have been studied, and rhythmic behavioral outputs have been characterized. Integration of this data could lead to a better understanding of sleep regulation. Here, we review the progress of circadian clock and sleep studies in zebrafish with special emphasis on the genetic and neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate rhythms of melatonin secretion, structural synaptic plasticity, locomotor activity and sleep.
zebrafish; circadian rhythms; synaptic plasticity; circadian clock; sleep; hypocretin; orexin; melatonin
The voltage clamp method, pioneered by Hodgkin, Huxley, and Katz, laid the foundations to neurophysiological research. Its core rationale is the use of closed-loop control as a tool for system characterization. A recently introduced method, the response clamp, extends the voltage clamp rationale to the functional, phenomenological level. The method consists of on-line estimation of a response variable of interest (e.g., the probability of response or its latency) and a simple feedback control mechanism designed to tightly converge this variable toward a desired trajectory. In the present contribution I offer a perspective on this novel method and its applications in the broader context of system identification and characterization. First, I demonstrate how internal state variables are exposed using the method, and how the use of several controllers may allow for a detailed, multi-variable characterization of the system. Second, I discuss three different categories of applications of the method: (1) exploration of intrinsically generated dynamics, (2) exploration of extrinsically generated dynamics, and (3) generation of input–output trajectories. The relation of these categories to similar uses in the voltage clamp and other techniques is also discussed. Finally, I discuss the method's limitations, as well as its possible synthesis with existing complementary approaches.
response clamp; control; closed-loop; physiology; psychophysics
A single olivocerebellar (OC) axon gives rise to about seven branches that terminate as climbing fibers (CFs). Branching patterns of an OC axon, which are classified into local, transverse, and longitudinal types, are highly organized, in relation to the longitudinal molecular (aldolase C or zebrin II) compartmentalization and the transverse lobulation of the cerebellum. Local branching is involved in forming a narrow band-shaped functional subarea within a molecular compartment. On the other hand, transverse and longitudinal branchings appear to be involved in linking mediolaterally separated molecular compartments and rostrocaudally separated lobular areas, respectively. Longitudinal branching occurs frequently between equivalent molecular compartments of specific combinations of lobules. These combinations include lobule V-simple lobule and crus II-paramedian lobule in the pars intermedia and hemisphere, and lobules I–V and lobule VIII in the vermis. The longitudinal branching pattern not only fits with mirror-imaged somatosensory double representation of the body in the pars intermedia, but it also suggests a general rostrocaudal link exists for the whole cerebellum across the putative rostrocaudal boundary in lobule VIc-crus I. Molecular compartments of the cerebellar cortex originate from the Purkinje cell (PC) clusters that appear in the late embryonic stage, when the immature OC projection is formed. Some clusters split rostrocaudally across crus I during the development of cortical compartments, which would result in longitudinal branching of OC projection across crus I. Supposing that the branching pattern of OC axons represents an essential organization of the cerebellum, longitudinal branching suggests a functional and developmental links between the rostral and caudal cerebellum across lobule VIc-crus I throughout the cerebellar cortex.
climbing fibers; collaterals; aldolase C; zebrin; lobules; compartments; somatotopical representation
Long-term expression of optogenetic proteins including channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) is widely used to study neural circuit function, but whether ChR2 expression itself perturbs circuits is not known. We expressed a common construct, CAG::ChR2 (H134R)-EYFP-WPRE, in L2/3 pyramidal cells in rat somatosensory cortex via in utero DNA electroporation (IUE). L2/3 pyramidal cells expressed ChR2-EYFP, but histology revealed abnormal morphology and targeting of ChR2-EYFP expressing axons, beginning at postnatal day (P) 33 and increasing with age. Axonal abnormalities included cylinders that enveloped pyramidal cell proximal apical dendrites, and spherical, calyx-like structures that surrounded neuronal cell bodies, including in L4. These are abnormal subcellular and laminar targets for L2/3 pyramidal cell synapses. Abnormalities did not occur in cells expressing GFP instead of ChR2, or in intermixed ChR2-negative axons. Long-term viral-mediated expression (80 d) did not cause axonal abnormalities when the CAG promoter was used, but produced some abnormalities with the stronger αCaMKII promoter (albeit much less than with in utero electroporation). Thus, under some circumstances high-level, long-term expression of ChR2-EYFP can perturb the structural organization of cortical circuits.
optogenetics; in utero electroporation; axon development; circuit
Frequency modulations occur in many natural sounds, including vocalizations. The neuronal response to frequency modulated (FM) stimuli has been studied extensively in different brain areas, with an emphasis on the auditory cortex and the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus. Here, we measured the responses to FM sweeps in whole-cell recordings from neurons in the dorsal cortex of the mouse inferior colliculus. Both up- and downward logarithmic FM sweeps were presented at two different speeds to both the ipsi- and the contralateral ear. Based on the number of action potentials that were fired, between 10 and 24% of cells were selective for rate or direction of the FM sweeps. A somewhat lower percentage of cells, 6–21%, showed selectivity based on EPSP size. To study the mechanisms underlying the generation of FM selectivity, we compared FM responses with responses to simple tones in the same cells. We found that if pairs of neurons responded in a similar way to simple tones, they generally also responded in a similar way to FM sweeps. Further evidence that FM selectivity can be generated within the dorsal cortex was obtained by reconstructing FM sweeps from the response to simple tones using three different models. In about half of the direction selective neurons the selectivity was generated by spectrally asymmetric synaptic inhibition. In addition, evidence for direction selectivity based on the timing of excitatory responses was also obtained in some cells. No clear evidence for the local generation of rate selectivity was obtained. We conclude that FM direction selectivity can be generated within the dorsal cortex of the mouse inferior colliculus by multiple mechanisms.
patch-clamp; direction selectivity; rate selectivity; FM reconstruction; auditory midbrain
Chronic stress impairs cognitive function, namely on tasks that rely on the integrity of cortico-limbic networks. To unravel the functional impact of progressive stress in cortico-limbic networks we measured neural activity and spectral coherences between the ventral hippocampus (vHIP) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in rats subjected to short term stress (STS) and chronic unpredictable stress (CUS). CUS exposure consistently disrupted the spectral coherence between both areas for a wide range of frequencies, whereas STS exposure failed to trigger such effect. The chronic stress-induced coherence decrease correlated inversely with the vHIP power spectrum, but not with the mPFC power spectrum, which supports the view that hippocampal dysfunction is the primary event after stress exposure. Importantly, we additionally show that the variations in vHIP-to-mPFC coherence and power spectrum in the vHIP correlated with stress-induced behavioral deficits in a spatial reference memory task. Altogether, these findings result in an innovative readout to measure, and follow, the functional events that underlie the stress-induced reference memory impairments.
chronic stress; coherence; power spectrum; hippocampus; prefrontal cortex
Defining the connections among neurons is critical to our understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system. Recombinant viruses engineered to transmit across synapses provide a powerful approach for the dissection of neuronal circuitry in vivo. We recently demonstrated that recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) can be endowed with anterograde or retrograde transsynaptic tracing ability by providing the virus with different glycoproteins. Here we extend the characterization of the transmission and gene expression of recombinant VSV (rVSV) with the rabies virus glycoprotein (RABV-G), and provide examples of its activity relative to the anterograde transsynaptic tracer form of rVSV. rVSV with RABV-G was found to drive strong expression of transgenes and to spread rapidly from neuron to neuron in only a retrograde manner. Depending upon how the RABV-G was delivered, VSV served as a polysynaptic or monosynaptic tracer, or was able to define projections through axonal uptake and retrograde transport. In animals co-infected with rVSV in its anterograde form, rVSV with RABV-G could be used to begin to characterize the similarities and differences in connections to different areas. rVSV with RABV-G provides a flexible, rapid, and versatile tracing tool that complements the previously described VSV-based anterograde transsynaptic tracer.
vesicular stomatitis virus; transsynaptic infection; rabies; retrograde transneuronal tracing; in vivo; technology; polysynaptic
Cortical neurons and, particularly, inhibitory interneurons display a large diversity of morphological, synaptic, electrophysiological, and molecular properties, as well as diverse embryonic origins. Various authors have proposed alternative classification schemes that rely on the concomitant observation of several multimodal features. However, a broad variability is generally observed even among cells that are grouped into a same class. Furthermore, the attribution of specific neurons to a single defined class is often difficult, because individual properties vary in a highly graded fashion, suggestive of continua of features between types. Going beyond the description of representative traits of distinct classes, we focus here on the analysis of atypical cells. We introduce a novel paradigm for neuronal type classification, assuming explicitly the existence of a structured continuum of diversity. Our approach, grounded on the theory of fuzzy sets, identifies a small optimal number of model archetypes. At the same time, it quantifies the degree of similarity between these archetypes and each considered neuron. This allows highlighting archetypal cells, which bear a clear similarity to a single model archetype, and edge cells, which manifest a convergence of traits from multiple archetypes.
neuronal diversity; interneuron diversity; barrel cortex; petilla terminology; atypical cells; fuzzy sets; unsupervised clustering
Glutamatergic hilar mossy cells of the dentate gyrus can either excite or inhibit distant granule cells, depending on whether their direct excitatory projections to granule cells or their projections to local inhibitory interneurons dominate. However, it remains controversial whether the net effect of mossy cell loss is granule cell excitation or inhibition. Clarifying this controversy has particular relevance to temporal lobe epilepsy, which is marked by dentate granule cell hyperexcitability and extensive loss of dentate hilar mossy cells. Two diametrically opposed hypotheses have been advanced to explain this granule cell hyperexcitability—the “dormant basket cell” and the “irritable mossy cell” hypotheses. The “dormant basket cell” hypothesis proposes that mossy cells normally exert a net inhibitory effect on granule cells and therefore their loss causes dentate granule cell hyperexcitability. The “irritable mossy cell” hypothesis takes the opposite view that mossy cells normally excite granule cells and that the surviving mossy cells in epilepsy increase their activity, causing granule cell excitation. The inability to eliminate mossy cells selectively has made it difficult to test these two opposing hypotheses. To this end, we developed a transgenic toxin-mediated, mossy cell-ablation mouse line. Using these mutants, we demonstrated that the extensive elimination of hilar mossy cells causes granule cell hyperexcitability, although the mossy cell loss observed appeared insufficient to cause clinical epilepsy. In this review, we focus on this topic and also suggest that different interneuron populations may mediate mossy cell-induced translamellar lateral inhibition and intralamellar recurrent inhibition. These unique local circuits in the dentate hilar region may be centrally involved in the functional organization of the dentate gyrus.
mossy cells; granule cells; excitability; epileptogenesis; lateral inhibition; hippocampal mossy fibers; pattern separation; temporal lobe epilepsy
Although transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) activates a number of different neuron types in the cortex, the final output elicited in corticospinal neurones is surprisingly stereotyped. A single TMS pulse evokes a series of descending corticospinal volleys that are separated from each other by about 1.5 ms (i.e., ~670 Hz). This evoked descending corticospinal activity can be directly recorded by an epidural electrode placed over the high cervical cord. The earliest wave is thought to originate from the direct activation of the axons of fast-conducting pyramidal tract neurones (PTN) and is therefore termed “D” wave. The later waves are thought to originate from indirect, trans-synaptic activation of PTNs and are termed “I” waves. The anatomical and computational characteristics of a canonical microcircuit model of cerebral cortex composed of layer II and III and layer V excitatory pyramidal cells, inhibitory interneurons, and cortico-cortical and thalamo-cortical inputs can account for the main characteristics of the corticospinal activity evoked by TMS including its regular and rhythmic nature, the stimulus intensity-dependence and its pharmacological modulation. In this review we summarize present knowledge of the physiological basis of the effects of TMS of the human motor cortex describing possible interactions between TMS and simple canonical microcircuits of neocortex. According to the canonical model, a TMS pulse induces strong depolarization of the excitatory cells in the superficial layers of the circuit. This leads to highly synchronized recruitment of clusters of excitatory neurons, including layer V PTNs, and of inhibitory interneurons producing a high frequency (~670 Hz) repetitive discharge of the corticospinal axons. The role of the inhibitory circuits is crucial to entrain the firing of the excitatory networks to produce a high-frequency discharge and to control the number and magnitude of evoked excitatory discharge in layer V PTNs. In summary, simple canonical microcircuits of neocortex can explain activation of corticospinal neurons in human motor cortex by TMS.
transcranial magnetic stimulation; motor cortex; pyramidal neuron; GABAergic neuron; corticospinal tract
The medullary respiratory network generates respiratory rhythm via sequential phase switching, which in turn is controlled by multiple feedbacks including those from the pons and nucleus tractus solitarii; the latter mediates pulmonary afferent feedback to the medullary circuits. It is hypothesized that both pontine and pulmonary feedback pathways operate via activation of medullary respiratory neurons that are critically involved in phase switching. Moreover, the pontine and pulmonary control loops interact, so that pulmonary afferents control the gain of pontine influence of the respiratory pattern. We used an established computational model of the respiratory network (Smith et al., 2007) and extended it by incorporating pontine circuits and pulmonary feedback. In the extended model, the pontine neurons receive phasic excitatory activation from, and provide feedback to, medullary respiratory neurons responsible for the onset and termination of inspiration. The model was used to study the effects of: (1) “vagotomy” (removal of pulmonary feedback), (2) suppression of pontine activity attenuating pontine feedback, and (3) these perturbations applied together on the respiratory pattern and durations of inspiration (TI) and expiration (TE). In our model: (a) the simulated vagotomy resulted in increases of both TI and TE, (b) the suppression of pontine-medullary interactions led to the prolongation of TI at relatively constant, but variable TE, and (c) these perturbations applied together resulted in “apneusis,” characterized by a significantly prolonged TI. The results of modeling were compared with, and provided a reasonable explanation for, multiple experimental data. The characteristic changes in TI and TE demonstrated with the model may represent characteristic changes in the balance between the pontine and pulmonary feedback control mechanisms that may reflect specific cardio-respiratory disorders and diseases.
respiratory central pattern generator; brainstem; ventrolateral respiratory column; pre-Bötzinger complex; pontine-medullary interactions; pulmonary feedback; control of breathing; apneusis
Living creatures, like walking animals, have found fascinating solutions for the problem of locomotion control. Their movements show the impression of elegance including versatile, energy-efficient, and adaptable locomotion. During the last few decades, roboticists have tried to imitate such natural properties with artificial legged locomotion systems by using different approaches including machine learning algorithms, classical engineering control techniques, and biologically-inspired control mechanisms. However, their levels of performance are still far from the natural ones. By contrast, animal locomotion mechanisms seem to largely depend not only on central mechanisms (central pattern generators, CPGs) and sensory feedback (afferent-based control) but also on internal forward models (efference copies). They are used to a different degree in different animals. Generally, CPGs organize basic rhythmic motions which are shaped by sensory feedback while internal models are used for sensory prediction and state estimations. According to this concept, we present here adaptive neural locomotion control consisting of a CPG mechanism with neuromodulation and local leg control mechanisms based on sensory feedback and adaptive neural forward models with efference copies. This neural closed-loop controller enables a walking machine to perform a multitude of different walking patterns including insect-like leg movements and gaits as well as energy-efficient locomotion. In addition, the forward models allow the machine to autonomously adapt its locomotion to deal with a change of terrain, losing of ground contact during stance phase, stepping on or hitting an obstacle during swing phase, leg damage, and even to promote cockroach-like climbing behavior. Thus, the results presented here show that the employed embodied neural closed-loop system can be a powerful way for developing robust and adaptable machines.
efference copy; central pattern generators; sensory feedback; recurrent neural networks; local leg control; walking gait; autonomous robots
An expansion of glutamine repeats in the N-terminal domain of the huntingtin protein leads to Huntington's disease (HD), a neurodegenerative condition characterized by the presence of involuntary movements, dementia, and psychiatric disturbances. Evaluation of postmortem HD tissue indicates that the most prominent cell loss occurs in cerebral cortex and striatum, forebrain regions in which cortical pyramidal neurons (CPNs) and striatal medium spiny neurons (MSNs) are the most affected. Subsequent evidence obtained from HD patients and especially from transgenic mouse models of HD indicates that long before neuronal death, patterns of communication between CPNs and MSNs become dysfunctional. In fact, electrophysiological signaling in transgenic HD mice is altered even before the appearance of the HD behavioral phenotype, suggesting that dysfunctional cortical input to the striatum sets the stage for the emergence of HD neurological signs. Striatal MSNs, moreover, project back to cortex via multi-synaptic connections, allowing for even further disruptions in cortical processing. An effective therapeutic strategy for HD, therefore, may lie in understanding the synaptic mechanisms by which it dysregulates the corticostriatal system. Here, we review literature evaluating the molecular, morphological, and physiological alterations in the cerebral cortex, a key component of brain circuitry controlling motor behavior, as they occur in both patients and transgenic HD models.
basal ganglia; glutamate transmission; huntingtin; neuronal processing
The adult brain is in a continuous state of remodeling. This is nowhere more true than in the dentate gyrus, where competing forces such as neurodegeneration and neurogenesis dynamically modify neuronal connectivity, and can occur simultaneously. This plasticity of the adult nervous system is particularly important in the context of traumatic brain injury or deafferentation. In this review, we summarize a classic injury model, lesioning of the perforant path, which removes the main extrahippocampal input to the dentate gyrus. Early studies revealed that in response to deafferentation, axons of remaining fiber systems and dendrites of mature granule cells undergo lamina-specific changes, providing one of the first examples of structural plasticity in the adult brain. Given the increasing role of adult-generated new neurons in the function of the dentate gyrus, we also compare the response of newborn and mature granule cells following lesioning of the perforant path. These studies provide insights not only to plasticity in the dentate gyrus, but also to the response of neural circuits to brain injury.
perforant path lesion; adult neurogenesis; dentate gyrus; reactive synaptogenesis
The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a critical brain region involved in many reward-related behaviors. The NAc comprises major compartments the core and the shell, which encompass several subterritories. GABAergic medium-sized spiny neurons (MSNs) constitute the output neurons of the NAc core and shell. While the functional organization of the NAc core outputs resembles the one described for the dorsal striatum, a simple classification of the NAc shell neurons has been difficult to define due to the complexity of the compartmental segregation of cells. We used a variety of BAC transgenic mice expressing enhanced green fluorescence (EGFP) or the Cre-recombinase (Cre) under the control of the promoter of dopamine D1, D2, and D3 receptors and of adenosine A2a receptor to dissect the microanatomy of the NAc. Moreover, using various immunological markers we characterized in detail the distribution of MSNs in the mouse NAc. In addition, cell-type specific extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation in the NAc subterritories was analyzed following acute administration of SKF81297 (a D1R-like agonist), quinpirole (a D2 receptors (D2R)-like agonist), apomorphine (a non-selective DA receptor agonist), raclopride (a D2R-like antagonist), and psychostimulant drugs, including cocaine and d-amphetamine. Each drug generated a unique topography and cell-type specific activation of ERK in the NAc. Our results show the existence of marked differences in the receptor expression pattern and functional activation of MSNs within the shell subterritories. This study emphasizes the anatomical and functional heterogeneity of the NAc, which will have to be considered in its further study.
medium-sized spiny neurons; BAC transgenic; nucleus accumbens; dopamine; psychostimulant; ERK signaling; neural circuits
This paper describes a modeling-control paradigm to control the hippocampal output (CA1 response) for the development of hippocampal prostheses. In order to bypass a damaged hippocampal region (e.g., CA3), downstream hippocampal signal (e.g., CA1 responses) needs to be reinstated based on the upstream hippocampal signal (e.g., dentate gyrus responses) via appropriate stimulations to the downstream (CA1) region. In this approach, we optimize the stimulation signal to CA1 by using a predictive DG-CA1 nonlinear model (i.e., DG-CA1 trajectory model) and an inversion of the CA1 input–output model (i.e., inverse CA1 plant model). The desired CA1 responses are first predicted by the DG-CA1 trajectory model and then used to derive the optimal stimulation intensity through the inverse CA1 plant model. Laguerre-Volterra kernel models for random-interval, graded-input, contemporaneous-graded-output system are formulated and applied to build the DG-CA1 trajectory model and the CA1 plant model. The inverse CA1 plant model to transform desired output to input stimulation is derived from the CA1 plant model. We validate this paradigm with rat hippocampal slice preparations. Results show that the CA1 responses evoked by the optimal stimulations accurately replicate the CA1 responses recorded in the hippocampal slice with intact trisynaptic pathway.
neural prosthesis; Volterra kernel; inverse control; trajectory model; hippocampus
The neocortex or six layer cortex consists of at least 52 cytoarchitectonically distinct areas in humans, and similar areas can be distinguished in rodents. Each of these areas has a defining set of extrinsic connections, identifiable functional roles, a distinct laminar arrangement, etc. Thus, neocortex is extensively subdivided into areas of anatomical and functional specialization, but less is known about the specialization of cellular and network physiology across areas. The motor cortex appears to have a distinct propensity to oscillate in the 7–14 Hz frequency range. Augmenting responses, normal mu and beta oscillations, and abnormal oscillations or after discharges caused by enhancing excitation or suppressing inhibition are all expressed around this frequency range. The substrate for this activity may be an excitatory network that is unique to the motor cortex or that is more strongly suppressed in other areas, such as somatosensory cortex. Interestingly, augmenting responses are dependent on behavioral state. They are abolished during behavioral arousal. Here, I briefly review this evidence.
oscillatory activity; motor cortex; behavioral state; potassium channels; voltage-gated; excitatory synapses
Structural plasticity occurs physiologically or after brain damage to adapt or re-establish proper synaptic connections. This capacity depends on several intrinsic and extrinsic determinants that differ between neuron types. We reviewed the significant endogenous regenerative potential of the neurons of the inferior olive (IO) in the adult rodent brain and the structural remodeling of the terminal arbor of their axons, the climbing fiber (CF), under various experimental conditions, focusing on the growth-associated protein GAP-43. CFs undergo remarkable collateral sprouting in the presence of denervated Purkinje cells (PCs) that are available for new innervation. In addition, severed olivo-cerebellar axons regenerate across the white matter through a graft of embryonic Schwann cells. In contrast, CFs undergo a regressive modification when their target is deleted. In vivo knockdown of GAP-43 in olivary neurons, leads to the atrophy of their CFs and a reduction in the ability to sprout toward surrounding denervated PCs. These findings demonstrate that GAP-43 is essential for promoting denervation-induced sprouting and maintaining normal CF architecture.
climbing fiber; GAP-43; sprouting; atrophy; branching
Complex spikes generated in a cerebellar Purkinje cell via a climbing fiber have been assumed to encode errors in the performance of neuronal circuits involving Purkinje cells. To reexamine this notion in this review, I analyzed structures of motor control systems involving the cerebellum. A dichotomy was found between the two types of error: sensory and motor errors play roles in the feedforward and feedback control conditions, respectively. To substantiate this dichotomy, here in this article I reviewed recent data on neuronal connections and signal contents of climbing fibers in the vestibuloocular reflex (VOR), optokinetic eye movement response, saccade, hand reaching, cursor tracking, as well as some other cases of motor control. In our studies, various sources of sensory and motor errors were located in the neuronal pathways leading to the inferior olive. We noted that during the course of evolution, control system structures involving the cerebellum changed rather radically from the prototype seen in the flocculonodular lobe and vermis to that applicable to the cerebellar hemisphere. Nevertheless, the dichotomy between sensory and motor errors is maintained.
adaptation; error; internal model; microcomplex; motor learning
We designed a novel assisted closed-loop optimization protocol to improve the efficiency of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) based on steady state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP). In traditional paradigms, the control over the BCI-performance completely depends on the subjects' ability to learn from the given feedback cues. By contrast, in the proposed protocol both the subject and the machine share information and control over the BCI goal. Generally, the innovative assistance consists in the delivery of online information together with the online adaptation of BCI stimuli properties. In our case, this adaptive optimization process is realized by (1) a closed-loop search for the best set of SSVEP flicker frequencies and (2) feedback of actual SSVEP magnitudes to both the subject and the machine. These closed-loop interactions between subject and machine are evaluated in real-time by continuous measurement of their efficiencies, which are used as online criteria to adapt the BCI control parameters. The proposed protocol aims to compensate for variability in possibly unknown subjects' state and trait dimensions. In a study with N = 18 subjects, we found significant evidence that our protocol outperformed classic SSVEP-BCI control paradigms. Evidence is presented that it takes indeed into account interindividual variabilities: e.g., under the new protocol, baseline resting state EEG measures predict subjects' BCI performances. This paper illustrates the promising potential of assisted closed-loop protocols in BCI systems. Probably their applicability might be expanded to innovative uses, e.g., as possible new diagnostic/therapeutic tools for clinical contexts and as new paradigms for basic research.
brain-computer interface; brain-machine interface; activity-dependent stimulation; resting state EEG; resting state network; individual alpha frequency; BCI illiteracy; BCI performance predictor
The hippocampus is crucial for memory formation. New neurons are added throughout life to the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG), a brain area considered important for differential storage of similar experiences and contexts. To better understand the functional contribution of adult neurogenesis to pattern separation processes, we recently used a novel synapse specific trans-neuronal tracing approach to identify the (sub) cortical inputs to new dentate granule cells (GCs). It was observed that newly born neurons receive sequential innervation from structures important for memory function. Initially, septal-hippocampal cells provide input to new neurons, including transient innervation from mature GCs as well as direct feedback from area CA3 pyramidal neurons. After about 1 month perirhinal (PRH) and lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), brain areas deemed relevant to integration of novel sensory and environmental information, become substantial input to new GCs. Here, we review the developmental time-course and proposed functional relevance of new neurons, within the context of their unique neural circuitry.
dentate gyrus; adult neurogenesis; rabies virus; retrograde trans-neuronal tracing; learning and memory; area CA3; lateral entorhinal cortex; pattern separation
Recently, three-dimensional reconstruction of ultrastructure of the brain has been realized with minimal effort by using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) combined with focused ion beam (FIB) milling (FIB-SEM). Application of immunohistochemical staining in electron microscopy (EM) provides a great advantage in that molecules of interest are specifically localized in ultrastructures. Thus, we applied immunocytochemistry for FIB-SEM and correlated this immunoreactivity with that in confocal laser-scanning microcopy (CF-LSM). Dendrites of medium-sized spiny neurons in the rat neostriatum were visualized using a recombinant viral vector, which labeled the infected neurons with membrane-targeted GFP in a Golgi stain-like fashion. Moreover, the thalamostriatal afferent terminals were immunolabeled with Cy5 fluorescence for vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGluT2). After detection of the sites of terminals apposed to the dendrites by using CF-LSM, GFP and VGluT2 immunoreactivities were further developed for EM by using immunogold/silver enhancement and immunoperoxidase/diaminobenzidine (DAB) methods, respectively. In contrast-inverted FIB-SEM images, silver precipitations and DAB deposits were observed as fine dark grains and diffuse dense profiles, respectively, indicating that these immunoreactivities were as easily recognizable as those in the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images. Furthermore, in the sites of interest, some appositions displayed synaptic specializations of an asymmetric type. Thus, the present method was useful in the three-dimensional analysis of immunocytochemically differentiated synaptic connections in the central neural circuit.
focused ion beam; scanning electron microscopy; immunocytochemistry; three-dimensional reconstruction; confocal laser-scanning microscope; neural circuit; synapse; neostriatum