Pinwheel-dipole configuration in cat early visual cortex

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Intrinsic cortical dynamics dominate population responses to natural images across human visual cortex

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Intrinsic cortical dynamics are thought to underlie trial-to-trial variability of visually evoked responses in animal models. Understanding their function in the context of sensory processing and representation is a major current challenge. Here we report that intrinsic cortical dynamics strongly affect the representational geometry of a brain region, as reflected in response-pattern dissimilarities, and exaggerate the similarity of representations between brain regions. We characterized the representations in several human visual areas by representational dissimilarity matrices (RDMs) constructed from fMRI response-patterns for natural image stimuli. The RDMs of different visual areas were highly similar when the response-patterns were estimated on the basis of the same trials (sharing intrinsic cortical dynamics), and quite distinct when patterns were estimated on the basis of separate trials (sharing only the stimulus-driven component). We show that the greater similarity of the representational geometries can be explained by the coherent fluctuations of regional-mean activation within visual cortex, reflecting intrinsic dynamics. Using separate trials to study stimulus-driven representations revealed clearer distinctions between the representational geometries: a Gabor wavelet pyramid model explained representational geometry in visual areas V1–3 and a categorical animate–inanimate model in the object-responsive lateral occipital cortex.

General markers of conscious visual perception and their timing

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The goal of the present investigation was to identify reliable markers of conscious visual perception and to characterize their onset latency and its variability. To that end many visual stimuli from different categories were presented at near-threshold contrast and contrastive analyses were carried out on 100 balanced subsets of the data. N200 and P300 were the two reliable markers of conscious perception common to all perceived stimuli and absent for all nonperceived stimuli. The estimated mean onset latency for both markers was shortly after 200 ms. However, the onset latency of both of these markers of conscious perception showed considerable variability depending on which subsets of the data were considered. Some of this variability could be attributed to noise, but it was first and foremost the amplitude fluctuation in the condition without conscious perception that explained the variability in onset latencies of the markers of conscious perception. The present results help to understand why different studies have observed different onset times for the neural correlates of conscious perception. Moreover, the consciousness markers explored here have more generality as stimulus specificity was reduced.

Mechanisms for multiple activity modes of VTA dopamine neurons

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Midbrain ventral segmental area (VTA) dopaminergic neurons send numerous projections to cortical and sub-cortical areas, and diffusely release dopamine (DA) to their targets. DA neurons display a range of activity modes that vary in frequency and degree of burst ring. Importantly, DA neuronal bursting is associated with a significantly greater degree of DA release than an equivalent tonic activity pattern. Here, we introduce a single compartmental, conductance-based computational model for DA cell activity that captures the behavior of DA neuronal dynamics and examine the multiple factors that underlie DA firing modes: the strength of the SK conductance, the amount of drive, and GABA inhibition. Our results suggest that neurons with low SK conductance are in a fast firing mode, are correlated with burst firing, and require higher levels of applied current before undergoing depolarization block. We go on to consider the role of GABAergic inhibition on an ensemble of dynamical classes of DA neurons and find that strong GABA inhibition suppresses burst firing. Our studies suggest differences in the distribution of the SK conductance and GABA inhibition levels may indicate subclasses of DA neurons within the VTA. We further identify, that by considering alternate potassium dynamics, the dynamics display burst patterns that terminate via depolarization block, akin to those observed in vivo in VTA DA neurons and in substantia nigra pars compacta DA cell preparations under apamin application. In addition, we consider the generation of transient burst ring events that are NMDA-initiated or elicited by a sudden decrease of GABA inhibition, that is, disinhibition.

A high resolution 7-Tesla resting-state fMRI test-retest dataset with cognitive and physiological measures

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Here we present a test-retest dataset of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data acquired at rest. 22 participants were scanned during two sessions spaced one week apart. Each session includes two 1.5 mm isotropic whole-brain scans and one 0.75 mm isotropic scan of the prefrontal cortex, giving a total of six timepoints. Additionally, the dataset includes measures of mood, sustained attention, blood pressure, respiration, pulse, and the content of self-generated thoughts (mind wandering). This data enables the investigation of sources of both intra- and inter-session variability not only limited to physiological changes, but also including alterations in cognitive and affective states, at high spatial resolution. The dataset is accompanied by a detailed experimental protocol and source code of all stimuli used.

Local Fields of the Hippocampus: More than Meets the Eye

A standard methodology in systems neuroscience is to establish correlations between the brain and the world. These correlations have been robustly observed when probing the activity of single neurons. For example, there are cells that activate vigorously when subjects are presented with images of certain celebrities (e.g. the “Jennifer Aniston” neuron, Quiroga et al., 2005). While single neuron measurements provide remarkable insights into the functional specificity of different brain areas, it remains unclear how single cell activity arises from, and contributes to, the collective activity of brain networks. New technologies allow for the simultaneous recording of spikes from hundreds of cells, yet we are still far from observing entire neuronal circuits in action. An alternative approach in monitoring neuronal populations is to measure local field potentials (LFPs). These potentials arise from the coordinated activity of thousands of nearby neurons. LFPs often exhibit oscillations of various frequencies, which correlate with different states of awareness, such as alertness, relaxation, or drowsiness. However, establishing correlations between LFPs and specific behavioral events can be challenging, because the contributions of different neurons to the LFP usually cannot be distinguished. In this chapter, we examine LFPs recorded from the rat hippocampus. At first glance, these LFPs appear to bear little relation to the subject’s changing environment. However, through appropriate signal processing, we find that carried in the structure of the LFP is a remarkably precise stream of information.

Neuronal control of locomotor handedness in Drosophila

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Handedness in humans–better performance using either the left or right hand–is personally familiar, moderately heritable, and regulated by many genes, including those involved in general body symmetry. But behavioral handedness, i.e. lateralization, is a multifaceted phenomenon. For example, people display clockwise or counter- clockwise biases in their walking behavior that is uncorrelated to their hand dominance, and lateralized behavioral biases have been shown in species as disparate as mice (paw usage), octopi (eye usage), and tortoises (side rolled on during righting). However, the mechanisms by which asymmetries are instilled in behavior are unknown, and a system for studying behavioral handedness in a genetically tractable model system is needed. Here we show that Drosophila melanogaster flies exhibit striking variability in their left-right choice behavior during locomotion. Very strongly biased “left-handed” and “right-handed” individuals are common in every line assayed. The handedness of an individual persists for its lifetime, but is not passed on to progeny, suggesting that mechanisms other than genetics determine individual handedness. We use the Drosophila transgenic toolkit to map a specific set of neurons within the central complex that regulates the strength of behavioral handedness within a line. These findings give insights into choice behaviors and laterality in a simple model organism, and demonstrate that individuals from isogenic populations reared under experimentally identical conditions nevertheless display idiosyncratic behaviors.