The claustrum supports resilience to distraction

A barrage of information constantly assaults our senses, of which only a fraction is relevant at any given point in time. However, the neural circuitry supporting the suppression of irrelevant sensory distractors is not completely understood. The claustrum, a circuit hub with vast cortical connectivity, is an intriguing brain structure, whose restrictive anatomy, thin and elongated, has precluded functional investigation. Here, we describe the use of Egr2-CRE mice to access genetically defined claustral neurons. Utilizing conditional viruses for anterograde axonal labeling and retrograde trans-synaptic tracing, we validated this transgenic model for accessing the claustrum and extended the known repertoire of claustral input/output connectivity. Addressing the function of the claustrum, we inactivated CLEgr2+neurons, chronically as well as acutely, in mice performing an automated two-alternative forced-choice behavioral task. Strikingly, inhibition of CLEgr2+ neurons did not significantly impact task performance under varying delay times and cue durations, but revealed a selective role for the claustrum in supporting performance in the presence of an irrelevant auditory distractor. Further investigation of behavior, in the naturalistic maternal pup-retrieval task, replicated the result of sensitization to an auditory distractor following inhibition of CLEgr2+ neurons. Initiating investigation into the underlying mechanism, we found that activation of CLEgr2+ neurons modulated cortical sensory processing, suppressing tone representation in the auditory cortex. This functional study, utilizing selective genetic access, implicates the claustrum in supporting resilience to distraction, a fundamental aspect of attention.

Authors
Atlan G, Terem A, Peretz-Rivlin N, Sehrawat K, Gonzales BJ, Pozner G, Tasaka G-i, Goll Y, Refaeli R, Zviran O, Lim BK, Groysman M, Goshen I, Mizrahi A, Nelken I, Citri A,
Year of publication
2018
Journal
Current Biology, Volume 28, Issue 17, 10 September 2018, Pages 2752-2762