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Pathway-specific reorganization of projection neurons in somatosensory cortex during learning


Chen, Jerry L; Margolis, David J; Stankov, Atanas; Sumanovski, Lazar T; Schneider, Bernard L; Helmchen, Fritjof (2015). Pathway-specific reorganization of projection neurons in somatosensory cortex during learning. Nature Neuroscience, 18(8):1101-1108.

Abstract

In the mammalian brain, sensory cortices exhibit plasticity during task learning, but how this alters information transferred between connected cortical areas remains unknown. We found that divergent subpopulations of cortico-cortical neurons in mouse whisker primary somatosensory cortex (S1) undergo functional changes reflecting learned behavior. We chronically imaged activity of S1 neurons projecting to secondary somatosensory (S2) or primary motor (M1) cortex in mice learning a texture discrimination task. Mice adopted an active whisking strategy that enhanced texture-related whisker kinematics, correlating with task performance. M1-projecting neurons reliably encoded basic kinematics features, and an additional subset of touch-related neurons was recruited that persisted past training. The number of S2-projecting touch neurons remained constant, but improved their discrimination of trial types through reorganization while developing activity patterns capable of discriminating the animal's decision. We propose that learning-related changes in S1 enhance sensory representations in a pathway-specific manner, providing downstream areas with task-relevant information for behavior.

Abstract

In the mammalian brain, sensory cortices exhibit plasticity during task learning, but how this alters information transferred between connected cortical areas remains unknown. We found that divergent subpopulations of cortico-cortical neurons in mouse whisker primary somatosensory cortex (S1) undergo functional changes reflecting learned behavior. We chronically imaged activity of S1 neurons projecting to secondary somatosensory (S2) or primary motor (M1) cortex in mice learning a texture discrimination task. Mice adopted an active whisking strategy that enhanced texture-related whisker kinematics, correlating with task performance. M1-projecting neurons reliably encoded basic kinematics features, and an additional subset of touch-related neurons was recruited that persisted past training. The number of S2-projecting touch neurons remained constant, but improved their discrimination of trial types through reorganization while developing activity patterns capable of discriminating the animal's decision. We propose that learning-related changes in S1 enhance sensory representations in a pathway-specific manner, providing downstream areas with task-relevant information for behavior.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Brain Research Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:22 June 2015
Deposited On:23 Dec 2015 09:31
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:44
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1097-6256
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4046
PubMed ID:26098757

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