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Journal of Physiology
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Body ‘ownership' defines which things belong to us and can be manipulated by signals from cutaneous or muscle receptors. Whether signals from muscle proprioceptors on their own influence perceived ownership is unknown. We used finger-joint movement to induce illusory ownership of an artificial finger without vision. We coupled the subject's index finger to an artificial finger 12 cm above it. The experimenter held the subject's other index finger and thumb on the artificial finger and passively moved them congruently or incongruently for 3 min with the index finger and the grasping index finger and thumb intact or anaesthetised. When intact, congruent movement (19 subjects) reduced perceived vertical distance between index fingers to 1.0 (0.0, 2.0) cm [median (IQR)] from 3.0 (3.0, 4.0) cm with incongruent movement (P < 0.01). Simply grasping the artificial finger reduced perceived spacing between the grasping and test index fingers from 6.0 (5.0, 9.0) cm to 3.0 (3.0, 6.0) cm (P < 0.01), a new grasp illusion. Digital anaesthesia eliminated this grasp effect, after which congruent movement still reduced the perceived spacing between the index fingers to 1.0 (0.0, 2.75) cm compared to 4.0 (3.25, 6.0) cm with incongruent movement (P < 0.001). Subjects more strongly agreed that they were holding their own finger after congruent but not incongruent movement (P < 0.01). We propose that the brain generates possible scenarios and tests them against available sensory information. This process can function without vision or motor commands, and with only one channel of somatic information.
Neurons in the middle temporal (MT) area of primate cortex provide an important stage in the analysis of visual motion. For simple stimuli such as bars and plaids some neurons in area MT – pattern cells – seem to signal motion independent of contour orientation, but many neurons – component cells – do not. Why area MT supports both types of receptive field is unclear. To address this we made extracellular recordings from single units in area MT of anaesthetised marmoset monkeys and examined responses to two-dimensional images with a large range of orientations and spatial frequencies. Component and pattern cell response remained distinct during presentation of these complex spatial textures. Direction tuning curves were sharpest in component cells when a texture contained a narrow range of orientations, but were similar across all neurons for textures containing all orientations. Response magnitude of pattern cells, but not component cells, increased with the spatial bandwidth of the texture. In addition, response variability in all neurons was reduced when the stimulus was rich in spatial texture. Fisher information analysis showed that component cells provide more informative responses than pattern cells when a texture contains a narrow range of orientations, but pattern cells had more informative responses for broadband textures. Component cells and pattern cells may therefore coexist because they provide complementary and parallel motion signals.
HCN1 channels in cerebellar Purkinje cells promote late stages of learning and constrain synaptic inhibition
Neural computations rely on ion channels that modify neuronal responses to synaptic inputs. While single cell recordings suggest diverse and neurone type-specific computational functions for HCN1 channels, their behavioural roles in any single neurone type are not clear. Using a battery of behavioural assays, including analysis of motor learning in vestibulo-ocular reflex and rotarod tests, we find that deletion of HCN1 channels from cerebellar Purkinje cells selectively impairs late stages of motor learning. Because deletion of HCN1 modifies only a subset of behaviours involving Purkinje cells, we asked whether the channel also has functional specificity at a cellular level. We find that HCN1 channels in cerebellar Purkinje cells reduce the duration of inhibitory synaptic responses but, in the absence of membrane hyperpolarization, do not affect responses to excitatory inputs. Our results indicate that manipulation of subthreshold computation in a single neurone type causes specific modifications to behaviour.
Sign-preserving and sign-inverting synaptic interactions between rod and cone photoreceptors in the dark-adapted retina
We show that various types of rods and cones in the dark-adapted salamander retina are electrically coupled with linear and symmetrical junctional conductances Gj (40–223 pS) and a rank order: RodC–large single cone, rod–large single cone, rod–small single cone, rod–accessory double cone and rod–principal double cone. By systematically comparing the transjunctional current–voltage (Ij–Vj) relations and average Gj values of the five types of rod–cone pairs recorded at day and night times, our results suggest that the differences in Gj values among various types of rod–cone pairs are not caused by circadian differences, and the circadian-dependent changes in rod–cone coupling observed in the fish and rodent retinas are not present in the tiger salamander. In addition to rod–cone coupling, there is a sign-inverting, unidirectional rodcone current IRC, and the IRC–VCone relations are linear, with a reversal potential near the chloride reversal potential ECl. IRC can be observed in rods and cones separated by at least 260 m, and its waveform resembles that of the rod-elicited horizontal cell (HC) response IHC. A glutamate transporter-associated chloride channel blocker TBOA suppresses IRC but not IHC. These results suggest that IRC is largely mediated by HCs via a sign-inverting feedback chemical synapse associated with a chloride channel. IRC significantly reduced rodcone coupling in the frequency range below 15 Hz, allowing better separation of rod and cone signals in the dark-adapted retina.
It is well established that animals including humans attribute greater reinforcing value to glucose-containing sugars compared to their non-caloric counterparts, generally termed ‘artificial sweeteners'. However, much remains to be determined regarding the physiological signals and brain systems mediating the attribution of greater reinforcing value to sweet solutions that contain glucose. Here we show that disruption of glucose utilization in mice produces an enduring inhibitory effect on artificial sweetener intake, an effect that did not depend on sweetness perception or aversion. Indeed, such an effect was not observed in mice presented with a less palatable, yet caloric, glucose solution. Consistently, hungry mice shifted their preferences away from artificial sweeteners and in favour of glucose after experiencing glucose in a hungry state. Glucose intake was found to produce significantly greater levels of dopamine efflux compared to artificial sweetener in dorsal striatum, whereas disrupting glucose oxidation suppressed dorsal striatum dopamine efflux. Conversely, inhibiting striatal dopamine receptor signalling during glucose intake in sweet-naïve animals resulted in reduced, artificial sweetener-like intake of glucose during subsequent gluco-deprivation. Our results demonstrate that glucose oxidation controls intake levels of sweet tastants by modulating extracellular dopamine levels in dorsal striatum, and suggest that glucose utilization is one critical physiological signal involved in the control of goal-directed sweetener intake.
Reciprocal regulation of inhibitory synaptic transmission by nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in rat nucleus accumbens shell
Medium spiny neurones (MSNs) in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) are the principal neurones whose activities are regulated by GABAergic inputs from MSNs and fast-spiking interneurones (FSNs). Cholinergic interneurones play important roles in the regulation of activity in MSNs; however, how acetylcholine modulates inhibitory synaptic transmission from MSNs/FSNs to MSNs remains unknown. We performed paired whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from MSNs and FSNs in rat NAc shell slice preparations and examined cholinergic effects on unitary inhibitory postsynaptic currents (uIPSCs). Carbachol (1 m) suppressed uIPSC amplitude by 58.3 ± 8.0% in MSNMSN connections, accompanied by increases in paired-pulse ratio and failure rate, suggesting that acetylcholine reduces the probability of GABA release from the synaptic terminals of MSNs. Carbachol-induced uIPSC suppression was antagonised by 100 m atropine, and was mimicked by pilocarpine (1 m) and acetylcholine (1 m) but not nicotine (1 m). Application of AM251 slightly reduced carbachol-induced uIPSC suppression (30.8 ± 8.9%), suggesting an involvement of endocannabinoid signalling in muscarinic suppression of uIPSCs. In contrast, FSNMSN connections showed that pilocarpine had little effect on the uIPSC amplitude, whereas both nicotine and acetylcholine facilitated uIPSC amplitude, with decreases in failure rate and paired-pulse ratio, suggesting that nicotine-induced uIPSC facilitation is mediated by presynaptic mechanisms. Miniature IPSC recordings support these hypotheses of presynaptic cholinergic mechanisms. These results suggest a differential role for muscarinic and nicotinic receptors in GABA release, which depends on presynaptic neuronal subtypes in the NAc shell.
Long-lasting hyperpolarization underlies seizure reduction by low frequency deep brain electrical stimulation
Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is a common medically refractory neurological disease. Deep brain electrical stimulation (DBS) of grey matter has been used for MTLE with limited success. However, stimulation of a white matter tract connecting the hippocampi, the ventral hippocampal commissure (VHC), with low frequencies that simulate interictal discharges has shown promising results, with seizure reduction greater than 98% in bilateral hippocampi during stimulation and greater than 50% seizure reduction in bilateral hippocampi after treatment. A major hurdle to the implementation and optimization of this treatment is that the mechanisms of seizure reduction by low frequency electrical stimulation (LFS) are not known. The goal of this study is to understand how commissural fibre tract stimulation reduces bilateral hippocampal epileptic activity in an in vitro slice preparation containing bilateral hippocampi connected by the VHC. It is our hypothesis that electrical stimuli induce hyperpolarization lasting hundreds of milliseconds following each pulse which reduces spontaneous epileptic activity during each inter-stimulus interval (ISI). Stimulus-induced long-lasting-hyperpolarization (LLH) can be mediated by GABAB inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (IPSPs) or slow after-hyperpolarization (sAHP). To test the role of LLH in effective bilateral seizure reduction by fibre tract stimulation, we measured stimulus-induced hyperpolarization during LFS of the VHC using electrophysiology techniques. Antagonism of the GABAB IPSP and/or sAHP diminished stimulus-induced hyperpolarization concurrently with LFS efficacy (greater than 50% reduction). Blocking both the GABAB IPSP and sAHP simultaneously eliminated the effect of electrical stimulation on seizure reduction entirely. These data show that LFS of the VHC is an effective protocol for bilateral hippocampal seizure reduction and that its efficacy relies on the induction of long-lasting hyperpolarization mediated through GABAB IPSPs and sAHP. Based on this study, optimization of the timing of LFS and LFS-induced-LLH may lead to improved outcomes from DBS treatments for human epilepsy.
The group of nuclei within the basal ganglia of the forebrain is central to the control of movement. We present data showing that the structure and function of the basal ganglia have been conserved throughout vertebrate evolution over some 560 million years. The interaction between the different nuclei within the basal ganglia is conserved as well as the cellular and synaptic properties and transmitters. We consider the role of the conserved basal ganglia circuitry for basic patterns of motor behaviour controlled via brainstem circuits. The output of the basal ganglia consists of tonically active GABAergic neurones, which target brainstem motor centres responsible for different patterns of behaviour, such as eye and locomotor movements, posture, and feeding. A prerequisite for activating or releasing a motor programme is that this GABAergic inhibition is temporarily reduced. This can be achieved through activation of GABAergic projection neurons from striatum, the input level of the basal ganglia, given an appropriate synaptic drive from cortex, thalamus and the dopamine system. The tonic inhibition of the motor centres at rest most likely serves to prevent the different motor programmes from becoming active when not intended. Striatal projection neurones are subdivided into one group with dopamine 1 receptors that provides increased excitability of the direct pathway that can initiate movements, while inhibitory dopamine 2 receptors are expressed on neurones that instead inhibit movements and are part of the ‘indirect loop' in mammals as well as lamprey. We review the evidence showing that all basic features of the basal ganglia have been conserved throughout vertebrate phylogeny, and discuss these findings in relation to the role of the basal ganglia in selection of behaviour.
The main objective of this review is to re-examine the type of information transmitted by the dorsal and ventral spinocerebellar tracts (DSCT and VSCT respectively) during rhythmic motor actions such as locomotion. Based on experiments in the 1960s and 1970s, the DSCT was viewed as a relay of peripheral sensory input to the cerebellum in general, and during rhythmic movements such as locomotion and scratch. In contrast, the VSCT was seen as conveying a copy of the output of spinal neuronal circuitry, including those circuits generating rhythmic motor activity (the spinal central pattern generator, CPG). Emerging anatomical and electrophysiological information on the putative subpopulations of DSCT and VSCT neurons suggest differentiated functions for some of the subpopulations. Multiple lines of evidence support the notion that sensory input is not the only source driving DSCT neurons and, overall, there is a greater similarity between DSCT and VSCT activity than previously acknowledged. Indeed the majority of DSCT cells can be driven by spinal CPGs for locomotion and scratch without phasic sensory input. It thus seems natural to propose the possibility that CPG input to some of these neurons may contribute to distinguishing sensory inputs that are a consequence of the active locomotion from those resulting from perturbations in the external world.
Recent evidence indicates that ventral spinocerebellar tract (VSCT) neurons do not merely receive information provided by spinal interneurons but may also modulate the activity of these interneurons. Hence, interactions between them may be mutual. However, while it is well established that spinal interneurons may provide both excitatory and inhibitory input to ascending tract neurons, the functional consequences of the almost exclusively inhibitory input from premotor interneurons to subpopulations of VSCT neurons were only recently addressed. These are discussed in the first part of this review. The second part of the review summarizes evidence that some VSCT neurons may operate both as projection neurons and as spinal interneurons and play a role in spinal circuitry. It outlines the evidence that initial axon collaterals of VSCT neurons target premotor inhibitory interneurons in disynaptic reflex pathways from tendon organs and muscle spindles (group Ia, Ib and/or II muscle afferents) to motoneurons. By activating these interneurons VSCT neurons may evoke disynaptic IPSPs in motoneurons and thus facilitate inhibitory actions of contralateral muscle afferents on motoneurons. In this way they may contribute to the coordination between neuronal networks on both sides of the spinal cord in advance of modulatory actions evoked via the cerebellar control systems.
The lateral reticular nucleus: a precerebellar centre providing the cerebellum with overview and integration of motor functions at systems level. A new hypothesis
The lateral reticular nucleus (LRN) is a major precerebellar centre of mossy fibre information to the cerebellum from the spinal cord that is distinct from the direct spinocerebellar paths. The LRN has traditionally been considered to provide the cerebellum with segregated information from several spinal systems controlling posture, reaching, grasping, locomotion, scratching and respiration. However, results are presented that show extensive convergence on a majority of LRN neurons from spinal systems. We propose a new hypothesis suggesting that the LRN may use extensive convergence from the different input systems to provide overview and integration of linked motor components to the cerebellum. This integrated information is sent in parallel with the segregated information from the individual systems to the cerebellum that finally may compare the activity and make necessary adjustments of various motor behaviours.
The review asks how the adaptive filter model of the cerebellum might be relevant to experimental work on zone C3, one of the most extensively studied regions of cerebellar cortex. As far as features of the cerebellar microcircuit are concerned, the model appears to fit very well with electrophysiological discoveries concerning the importance of molecular layer interneurons and their plasticity, the significance of long-term potentiation and the striking number of silent parallel fibre synapses. Regarding external connectivity and functionality, a key feature of the adaptive filter model is its use of the decorrelation algorithm, which renders it uniquely suited to problems of sensory noise cancellation. However, this capacity can be extended to the avoidance of sensory interference, by appropriate movements of, for example, the eyes in the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Avoidance becomes particularly important when painful signals are involved, and as the climbing fibre input to zone C3 is extremely responsive to nociceptive stimuli, it is proposed that one function of this zone is the avoidance of pain by, for example, adjusting movements of the body to avoid self-harm. This hypothesis appears consistent with evidence from humans and animals concerning the role of the intermediate cerebellum in classically conditioned withdrawal reflexes, but further experiments focusing on conditioned avoidance are required to test the hypothesis more stringently. The proposed architecture may also be useful for automatic self-adjusting damage avoidance in robots, an important consideration for next generation ‘soft' robots designed to interact with people.
Cerebellar climbing fibres originate in the inferior olive (IO). Temporary IO inactivation produces movement deficits. Does permanent inactivation produce similar deficits and, if so, do they recover? The excitotoxin, kainic acid, was injected into the rostral IO of three cats. Behaviour was measured during reaching and locomotion. Two cats were injected during the reaching task. Within minutes, grasping became difficult and the trajectories of the reaches showed higher arcing than normally seen. During locomotion, both cats showed head and trunk deviation to the injected side, walking paths curved to the injected side, and the paws were lifted higher than normal. Limbs contralateral to the injections became rigid. Within 1 day, posture had normalized, locomotion was unsteady and high lifting of the paws had reversed to a tendency to drag the dorsum of the paws. Passive body movement produced vestibular signs. Over a few days, locomotion normalized and vestibular signs disappeared. Reach trajectories were normal but grasping deficits persisted. Over the first week, the amplitude of limb lift during reaching and locomotion began to increase. The increase continued over time and, after several months, limb movements became severely ataxic. The effects followed the somatotopy of the rostral IO: a loss of cells in medial rostral IO only affected the forelimb, whereas a loss of cells in medial and lateral IO affected both forelimb and hindlimb. Deficits produced by IO lesions involve multiple mechanisms; some recover rapidly, some appear stable, and some worsen over time. The nature of the progressive deficit suggests a gradual loss of Purkinje cell inhibition on cerebellar nuclear cells.