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Elber-Dorozko, L, Loewenstein Y.  Submitted.  Striatal action-value neurons reconsidered. AbstractpdfSupplementary Information
It is generally believed that during economic decisions, striatal neurons represent the valuesassociated with different actions. This hypothesis is based on a large number of electrophysiological studies, in which the neural activity of striatal neurons was measured while the subject was learning to prefer the more rewarding action. Here we present an alternative interpretation of the electrophysiological findings. We show that the standard statistical methods that were used to identify action-value neurons in the striatum erroneously detect the same action-value representations in unrelated neuronal recordings. This is due to temporal correlations in the neuronal data. We propose an alternative statistical method for identifying action-value representations that is not subject to this caveat. We apply it to previously identified action-value neurons in the basal ganglia and fail to detect action-value representations. In conclusion, we argue that there is no conclusive evidence for the generally accepted hypothesis that striatal neurons encode action-values.
Lebovich, L, Darshan R, Lavi Y, Hansel D, Loewenstein Y.  Submitted.  Idiosyncratic choice bias in decision tasks naturally emerges from neuronal network dynamics. Abstract
Idiosyncratic tendency to choose one alternative over others in the absence of an identified reason, is a common observation in two-alternative forced-choice experiments. It is tempting to account for it as resulting from the (unknown) participant-specific history and thus treat it as a measurement noise. Indeed, idiosyncratic choice biases are typically considered as nuisance. Care is taken to account for them by adding an ad-hoc bias parameter or by counterbalancing the choices to average them out. Here we quantify idiosyncratic choice biases in a perceptual discrimination task and a motor task. We report substantial and significant biases in both cases. Then, we present theoretical evidence that even in idealized experiments, in which the settings are symmetric, idiosyncratic choice bias is expected to emerge from the dynamics of competing neuronal networks. We thus argue that idiosyncratic choice bias reflects the microscopic dynamics of choice and therefore is virtually inevitable in any comparison or decision task.
Maor, I, Elyada Y, Mizrahi A.  2018.  The Educage: an automated platform for studying auditory perceptual learning in mice. bioRxiv. Abstract
Perceptual learning (PL) is a form of implicit learning that requires lengthy training in order to improve perceptual abilities. Without reliable automation, this can require arduous manual labor which can impede experimental progress. We developed an automated platform, the Educage, that enables PL of groups of mice training simultaneously in a home-cage environment. The system is low-cost, runs automatically for long durations, and allows a large degree of flexibility in experimental design. We used the Educage to train mice on a go/no-go auditory discrimination task. Mice were trained to discriminate between pure tone sequences or frequency modulated vocalizations. We found that gradually increasing cognitive load by manipulating task difficulty was necessary to improve learning outcomes. Task difficulty was also associated with increased decision times and decreased discrimination performances of individual animals. The Educage is a new tool for studying, among others, perceptual learning in mice.
Tasaka, G-ichi, Guenthner CJ, Shalev A, Gilday O, Luo L, Mizrahi A.  2018.  Genetic tagging of active neurons in auditory cortex reveals maternal plasticity of coding ultrasonic vocalizations. Nat Commun. 9(1):871. Abstract
Cortical neurons are often functionally heterogeneous even for molecularly defined subtypes. In sensory cortices, physiological responses to natural stimuli can be sparse and vary widely even for neighboring neurons. It is thus difficult to parse out circuits that encode specific stimuli for further experimentation. Here, we report the development of a Cre-reporter mouse that allows recombination for cellular labeling and genetic manipulation, and use it with an activity-dependent Fos-CreERT2 driver to identify functionally active circuits in the auditory cortex. In vivo targeted patch recordings validate our method for neurons responding to physiologically relevant natural sounds such as pup wriggling calls and ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). Using this system to investigate cortical responses in postpartum mothers, we find a transient recruitment of neurons highly responsive to USVs. This subpopulation of neurons has distinct physiological properties that improve the coding efficiency for pup USV calls, implicating it as a unique signature in parental plasticity.
Fox, L, Choshen L, Loewenstein Y.  2018.  DORA The Explorer: Directed Outreaching Reinforcement Action-Selection. ICLR. 2018 AbstractPDF
Exploration is a fundamental aspect of Reinforcement Learning, typically implemented using stochastic action-selection. Exploration, however, can be more efficient if directed toward gaining new world knowledge. Visit-counters have been proven useful both in practice and in theory for directed exploration. However, a major limitation of counters is their locality. While there are a few model-based solutions to this shortcoming, a model-free approach is still missing. We propose $E$-values, a generalization of counters that can be used to evaluate the propagating exploratory value over state-action trajectories. We compare our approach to commonly used RL techniques, and show that using $E$-values improves learning and performance over traditional counters. We also show how our method can be implemented with function approximation to efficiently learn continuous MDPs. We demonstrate this by showing that our approach surpasses state of the art performance in the Freeway Atari 2600 game.
Barbash, S, Garfinkel BP, Maoz R, Simchovitz A, Nadorp B, Guffanti A, Bennett ER, Nadeau C, Turk A, Paul L et al..  2017.  Alzheimer's brains show inter-related changes in RNA and lipid metabolism. Neurobiol Dis. 106:1-13. Abstract
Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves changes in both lipid and RNA metabolism, but it remained unknown if these differences associate with AD's cognition and/or post-mortem neuropathology indices. Here, we report RNA-sequencing evidence of inter-related associations between lipid processing, cognition level, and AD neuropathology. In two unrelated cohorts, we identified pathway-enriched facilitation of lipid processing and alternative splicing genes, including the neuronal-enriched NOVA1 and hnRNPA1. Specifically, this association emerged in temporal lobe tissue samples from donors where postmortem evidence demonstrated AD neuropathology, but who presented normal cognition proximate to death. The observed changes further associated with modified ATP synthesis and mitochondrial transcripts, indicating metabolic relevance; accordingly, mass-spectrometry-derived lipidomic profiles distinguished between individuals with and without cognitive impairment prior to death. In spite of the limited group sizes, tissues from persons with both cognitive impairment and AD pathology showed elevation in several drug-targeted genes of other brain, vascular and autoimmune disorders, accompanied by pathology-related increases in distinct lipid processing transcripts, and in the RNA metabolism genes hnRNPH2, TARDBP, CLP1 and EWSR1. To further detect 3'-polyadenylation variants, we employed multiple cDNA primer pairs. This identified variants that showed limited differences in scope and length between the tested cohorts, yet enabled superior clustering of demented and non-demented AD brains versus controls compared to total mRNA expression values. Our findings indicate inter-related cognition-associated differences in AD's lipid processing, alternative splicing and 3'-polyadenylation, calling for pursuing the underlying psychological and therapeutics implications.
Haviv, R, Oz E, Soreq H.  2017.  The Stress-Responding miR-132-3p Shows Evolutionarily Conserved Pathway Interactions. Cell Mol Neurobiol. Abstract
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA chains that can each interact with the 3'-untranslated region of multiple target transcripts in various organisms, humans included. MiRNAs tune entire biological pathways, spanning stress reactions, by regulating the stability and/or translation of their targets. MiRNA genes are often subject to co-evolutionary changes together with their target transcripts, which may be reflected by differences between paralog mouse and primate miRNA/mRNA pairs. However, whether such evolution occurred in stress-related miRNAs remained largely unknown. Here, we report that the stress-induced evolutionarily conserved miR-132-3p, its target transcripts and its regulated pathways provide an intriguing example to exceptionally robust conservation. Mice and human miR-132-3p share six experimentally validated targets and 18 predicted targets with a common miRNA response element. Enrichment analysis and mining in-house and web-available experimental data identified co-regulation by miR-132 in mice and humans of stress-related, inflammatory, metabolic, and neuronal growth pathways. Our findings demonstrate pan-mammalian preservation of miR-132's neuronal roles, and call for further exploring the corresponding stress-related implications.
Bekenstein, U, Mishra N, Milikovsky DZ, Hanin G, Zelig D, Sheintuch L, Berson A, Greenberg DS, Friedman A, Soreq H.  2017.  Dynamic changes in murine forebrain miR-211 expression associate with cholinergic imbalances and epileptiform activity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 114:E4996-e5005. Abstract
Epilepsy is a common neurological disease, manifested in unprovoked recurrent seizures. Epileptogenesis may develop due to genetic or pharmacological origins or following injury, but it remains unclear how the unaffected brain escapes this susceptibility to seizures. Here, we report that dynamic changes in forebrain microRNA (miR)-211 in the mouse brain shift the threshold for spontaneous and pharmacologically induced seizures alongside changes in the cholinergic pathway genes, implicating this miR in the avoidance of seizures. We identified miR-211 as a putative attenuator of cholinergic-mediated seizures by intersecting forebrain miR profiles that were Argonaute precipitated, synaptic vesicle target enriched, or differentially expressed under pilocarpine-induced seizures, and validated TGFBR2 and the nicotinic antiinflammatory acetylcholine receptor nAChRa7 as murine and human miR-211 targets, respectively. To explore the link between miR-211 and epilepsy, we engineered dTg-211 mice with doxycycline-suppressible forebrain overexpression of miR-211. These mice reacted to doxycycline exposure by spontaneous electrocorticography-documented nonconvulsive seizures, accompanied by forebrain accumulation of the convulsive seizures mediating miR-134. RNA sequencing demonstrated in doxycycline-treated dTg-211 cortices overrepresentation of synaptic activity, Ca2+ transmembrane transport, TGFBR2 signaling, and cholinergic synapse pathways. Additionally, a cholinergic dysregulated mouse model overexpressing a miR refractory acetylcholinesterase-R splice variant showed a parallel propensity for convulsions, miR-211 decreases, and miR-134 elevation. Our findings demonstrate that in mice, dynamic miR-211 decreases induce hypersynchronization and nonconvulsive and convulsive seizures, accompanied by expression changes in cholinergic and TGFBR2 pathways as well as in miR-134. Realizing the importance of miR-211 dynamics opens new venues for translational diagnosis of and interference with epilepsy.
Lasser-Katz, E, Simchovitz A, Chiu WH, Oertel WH, Sharon R, Soreq H, Roeper J, Goldberg JA.  2017.  Mutant alpha-Synuclein Overexpression Induces Stressless Pacemaking in Vagal Motoneurons at Risk in Parkinson's Disease. J Neurosci. 37:47-57. Abstract
alpha-Synuclein overexpression (ASOX) drives the formation of toxic aggregates in neurons vulnerable in Parkinson's disease (PD), including dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra (SN) and cholinergic neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV). Just as these populations differ in when they exhibit alpha-synucleinopathies during PD pathogenesis, they could also differ in their physiological responses to ASOX. An ASOX-mediated hyperactivity of SN dopamine neurons, which was caused by oxidative dysfunction of Kv4.3 potassium channels, was recently identified in transgenic (A53T-SNCA) mice overexpressing mutated human alpha-synuclein. Noting that DMV neurons display extensive alpha-synucleinopathies earlier than SN dopamine neurons while exhibiting milder cell loss in PD, we aimed to define the electrophysiological properties of DMV neurons in A53T-SNCA mice. We found that DMV neurons maintain normal firing rates in response to ASOX. Moreover, Kv4.3 channels in DMV neurons exhibit no oxidative dysfunction in the A53T-SNCA mice, which could only be recapitulated in wild-type mice by glutathione dialysis. Two-photon imaging of redox-sensitive GFP corroborated the finding that mitochondrial oxidative stress was diminished in DMV neurons in the A53T-SNCA mice. This reduction in oxidative stress resulted from a transcriptional downregulation of voltage-activated (Cav) calcium channels in DMV neurons, which led to a reduction in activity-dependent calcium influx via Cav channels. Thus, ASOX induces a homeostatic remodeling with improved redox signaling in DMV neurons, which could explain the differential vulnerability of SN dopamine and DMV neurons in PD and could promote neuroprotective strategies that emulate endogenous homeostatic responses to ASOX (e.g., stressless pacemaking) in DMV neurons. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Overexpression of mutant alpha-synuclein causes Parkinson's disease, presumably by driving neurodegeneration in vulnerable neuronal target populations. However, the extent of alpha-synuclein pathology (e.g., Lewy bodies) is not directly related to the degree of neurodegeneration across various vulnerable neuronal populations. Here, we show that, in contrast to dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra, vagal motoneurons do not enhance their excitability and oxidative load in response to chronic mutant alpha-synuclein overexpression. Rather, by downregulating their voltage-activated calcium channels, vagal motoneurons acquire a stressless form of pacemaking that diminishes mitochondrial and cytosolic oxidative stress. Emulating this endogenous adaptive response to alpha-synuclein overexpression could lead to novel strategies to protect dopamine neurons and perhaps delay the onset of Parkinson's disease.
Mishra, N, Friedson L, Hanin G, Bekenstein U, Volovich M, Bennett ER, Greenberg DS, Soreq H.  2017.  Antisense miR-132 blockade via the AChE-R splice variant mitigates cortical inflammation. Sci Rep. 7:42755. Abstract
MicroRNA (miR)-132 brain-to-body messages suppress inflammation by targeting acetylcholinesterase (AChE), but the target specificity of 3'-AChE splice variants and the signaling pathways involved remain unknown. Using surface plasmon resonance (SPR), we identified preferential miR-132 targeting of soluble AChE-R over synaptic-bound AChE-S, potentiating miR-132-mediated brain and body cholinergic suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Inversely, bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) reduced multiple miR-132 targets, suppressed AChE-S more than AChE-R and elevated inflammatory hallmarks. Furthermore, blockade of peripheral miR-132 by chemically protected AM132 antisense oligonucleotide elevated muscle AChE-R 10-fold over AChE-S, and cortical miRNA-sequencing demonstrated inverse brain changes by AM132 and LPS in immune-related miRs and neurotransmission and cholinergic signaling pathways. In neuromuscular junctions, AM132 co-elevated the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor and AChE, re-balancing neurotransmission and reaching mild muscle incoordination. Our findings demonstrate preferential miR-132-induced modulation of AChE-R which ignites bidirectional brain and body anti-inflammatory regulation, underscoring splice-variant miR-132 specificity as a new complexity level in inflammatory surveillance.
Barbash, S, Simchovitz A, Buchman AS, Bennett DA, Shifman S, Soreq H.  2017.  Neuronal-expressed microRNA-targeted pseudogenes compete with coding genes in the human brain. Transl Psychiatry. 7:e1199. Abstract
MicroRNAs orchestrate brain functioning via interaction with microRNA recognition elements (MRE) on target transcripts. However, the global impact of potential competition on the microRNA pool between coding and non-coding brain transcripts that share MREs with them remains unexplored. Here we report that non-coding pseudogene transcripts carrying MREs (PSG+MRE) often show duplicated origin, evolutionary conservation and higher expression in human temporal lobe neurons than comparable duplicated MRE-deficient pseudogenes (PSG-MRE). PSG+MRE participate in neuronal RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISC), indicating functional involvement. Furthermore, downregulation cell culture experiments validated bidirectional co-regulation of PSG+MRE with MRE-sharing coding transcripts, frequently not their mother genes, and with targeted microRNAs; also, PSG+MRE single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, suggesting interaction with mental diseases. Our findings indicate functional roles of duplicated PSG+MRE in brain development and cognition, supporting physiological impact of the reciprocal co-regulation of PSG+MRE with MRE-sharing coding transcripts in human brain neurons.
Simchovitz, A, Heneka MT, Soreq H.  2017.  Personalized genetics of the cholinergic blockade of neuroinflammation. J Neurochem. 142 Suppl 2:178-187. Abstract
Acetylcholine signaling is essential for cognitive functioning and blocks inflammation. To maintain homeostasis, cholinergic signaling is subjected to multi-leveled and bidirectional regulation by both proteins and non-coding microRNAs ('CholinomiRs'). CholinomiRs coordinate the cognitive and inflammatory aspects of cholinergic signaling by targeting major cholinergic transcripts including the acetylcholine hydrolyzing enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Notably, AChE inhibitors are the only currently approved line of treatment for Alzheimer's disease patients. Since cholinergic signaling blocks neuroinflammation which is inherent to Alzheimer's disease, genomic changes modifying AChE's properties and its susceptibility to inhibitors and/or to CholinomiRs regulation may affect the levels and properties of inflammasome components such as NLRP3. This calls for genomic-based medicine approaches based on genotyping of both coding and non-coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the genes involved in cholinergic signaling. An example is a SNP in a recognition element for the primate-specific microRNA-608 within the 3' untranslated region of the AChE transcript. Carriers of the minor allele of that SNP present massively elevated brain AChE levels, increased trait anxiety and inflammation, accompanied by perturbed CholinomiR-608 regulatory networks and elevated prefrontal activity under exposure to stressful insults. Several additional SNPs in the AChE and other cholinergic genes await further studies, and might likewise involve different CholinomiRs and pathways including those modulating the initiation and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. CholinomiRs regulation of the cholinergic system thus merits in-depth interrogation and is likely to lead to personalized medicine approaches for achieving better homeostasis in health and disease. This is an article for the special issue XVth International Symposium on Cholinergic Mechanisms.
Hanin, G, Yayon N, Tzur Y, Haviv R, Bennett ER, Udi S, Krishnamoorthy YR, Kotsiliti E, Zangen R, Efron B et al..  2017.  miRNA-132 induces hepatic steatosis and hyperlipidaemia by synergistic multitarget suppression. Gut. Abstract
OBJECTIVE: Both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and the multitarget complexity of microRNA (miR) suppression have recently raised much interest, but the in vivo impact and context-dependence of hepatic miR-target interactions are incompletely understood. Assessing the relative in vivo contributions of specific targets to miR-mediated phenotypes is pivotal for investigating metabolic processes. DESIGN: We quantified fatty liver parameters and the levels of miR-132 and its targets in novel transgenic mice overexpressing miR-132, in liver tissues from patients with NAFLD, and in diverse mouse models of hepatic steatosis. We tested the causal nature of miR-132 excess in these phenotypes by injecting diet-induced obese mice with antisense oligonucleotide suppressors of miR-132 or its target genes, and measured changes in metabolic parameters and transcripts. RESULTS: Transgenic mice overexpressing miR-132 showed a severe fatty liver phenotype and increased body weight, serum low-density lipoprotein/very low-density lipoprotein (LDL/VLDL) and liver triglycerides, accompanied by decreases in validated miR-132 targets and increases in lipogenesis and lipid accumulation-related transcripts. Likewise, liver samples from both patients with NAFLD and mouse models of hepatic steatosis or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) displayed dramatic increases in miR-132 and varying decreases in miR-132 targets compared with controls. Furthermore, injecting diet-induced obese mice with anti-miR-132 oligonucleotides, but not suppressing its individual targets, reversed the hepatic miR-132 excess and hyperlipidemic phenotype. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings identify miR-132 as a key regulator of hepatic lipid homeostasis, functioning in a context-dependent fashion via suppression of multiple targets and with cumulative synergistic effects. This indicates reduction of miR-132 levels as a possible treatment of hepatic steatosis.
Jaffe-Dax, S, Raviv O, Loewenstein Y, Ahissar M.  2017.  A Computational Model of Dyslexics’ Perceptual Difficulties as Impaired Inference of Sound Statistics. Computational Models of Brain and Behavior. :3.
Daikhin, L, Raviv O, Ahissar M.  2017.  Auditory Stimulus Processing and Task Learning are adequate in Dyslexia, but Benefits From Regularities Are Reduced. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 60(2):471-479.
Banai, K, Ahissar M.  2017.  Poor sensitivity to sound statistics impairs the acquisition of speech categories in dyslexia. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience. :1-12.
Vinograd, A, Livneh Y, Mizrahi A.  2017.  History-dependent odor processing in the mouse olfactory bulb. The Journal of Neuroscience. 6;(37(49))::12018-12030.. Abstract
In nature, animals normally perceive sensory information on top of backgrounds. Thus, the neural substrate to perceive under background conditions is inherent in all sensory systems. Where and how sensory systems process backgrounds is not fully understood. In olfaction, only few studies addressed the issue of odor coding on top of continuous odorous backgrounds. Here, we tested how background odors are encoded by mitral cells (MCs) in the olfactory bulb (OB) of male mice. Using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging we studied how MCs responded to odors in isolation versus their responses to the same odors on top of continuous backgrounds. We show that MCs adapt to continuous odor presentation and that mixture responses are different when preceded by background. In a subset of odor combinations, this history dependent processing was useful to promote identification of target odors over background. Other odorous backgrounds were highly dominant, such that target odors were completely masked by their presence. Our data are consistent in both low and high odor concentrations and in anesthetized and awake mice. Thus, odor processing in the OB is strongly influenced by the recent history of activity, which could have strong impact on how odors are perceived.Significant statement: We examined a basic feature of sensory processing in the olfactory bulb. Specifically, we measured how mitral cells adapt to continuous background odors and how target odors are encoded on top of such background. Our results show clear differences in odor coding based on the immediate history of the stimulus. Our results support the argument that odor coding depends on the recent history of the sensory environment, already at the level of olfactory bulb output.
Jaffe-Dax, S, Kimel E, Ahissar M.  2017.  Widespread shorter cortical adaptation in dyslexia. bioRxiv. :219923.
Raghavan, RT, Joshua M.  2017.  Dissecting patterns of preparatory activity in the frontal eye fields during pursuit target selection.. Journal of neurophysiology. 118(4):2216-2231. Abstract
We investigated the composition of preparatory activity of frontal eye field (FEF) neurons in monkeys performing a pursuit target selection task. In response to the orthogonal motion of a large and a small reward target, monkeys initiated pursuit biased toward the direction of large reward target motion. FEF neurons exhibited robust preparatory activity preceding movement initiation in this task. Preparatory activity consisted of two components, ramping activity that was constant across target selection conditions, and a flat offset in firing rates that signaled the target selection condition. Ramping activity accounted for 50% of the variance in the preparatory activity and was linked most strongly, on a trial-by-trial basis, to pursuit eye movement latency rather than to its direction or gain. The offset in firing rates that discriminated target selection conditions accounted for 25% of the variance in the preparatory activity and was commensurate with a winner-take-all representation, signaling the direction of large reward target motion rather than a representation that matched the parameters of the upcoming movement. These offer new insights into the role that the frontal eye fields play in target selection and pursuit control. They show that preparatory activity in the FEF signals more strongly when to move rather than where or how to move and suggest that structures outside the FEF augment its contributions to the target selection process. We used the smooth eye movement pursuit system to link between patterns of preparatory activity in the frontal eye fields and movement during a target selection task. The dominant pattern was a ramping signal that did not discriminate between selection conditions and was linked, on trial-by-trial basis, to movement latency. A weaker pattern was composed of a constant signal that discriminated between selection conditions but was only weakly linked to the movement parameters.
Yarden, TS, Nelken I.  2017.  Stimulus-specific adaptation in a recurrent network model of primary auditory cortex.. PLoS Comput Biol.. 13(3):e1005437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005437. Abstract
Stimulus-specific adaptation (SSA) occurs when neurons decrease their responses to frequently-presented (standard) stimuli but not, or not as much, to other, rare (deviant) stimuli. SSA is present in all mammalian species in which it has been tested as well as in birds. SSA confers short-term memory to neuronal responses, and may lie upstream of the generation of mismatch negativity (MMN), an important human event-related potential. Previously published models of SSA mostly rely on synaptic depression of the feedforward, thalamocortical input. Here we study SSA in a recurrent neural network model of primary auditory cortex. When the recurrent, intracortical synapses display synaptic depression, the network generates population spikes (PSs). SSA occurs in this network when deviants elicit a PS but standards do not, and we demarcate the regions in parameter space that allow SSA. While SSA based on PSs does not require feedforward depression, we identify feedforward depression as a mechanism for expanding the range of parameters that support SSA. We provide predictions for experiments that could help differentiate between SSA due to synaptic depression of feedforward connections and SSA due to synaptic depression of recurrent connections. Similar to experimental data, the magnitude of SSA in the model depends on the frequency difference between deviant and standard, probability of the deviant, inter-stimulus interval and input amplitude. In contrast to models based on feedforward depression, our model shows true deviance sensitivity as found in experiments.
Zylbertal, A, Yarom Y, Wagner S.  2017.  Synchronous Infra-Slow Bursting in the Mouse Accessory Olfactory Bulb Emerge from Interplay between Intrinsic Neuronal Dynamics and Network Connectivity.. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 37(10):2656-2672. Abstract
Rhythmic neuronal activity of multiple frequency bands has been described in many brain areas and attributed to numerous brain functions. Among these, little is known about the mechanism and role of infra-slow oscillations, which have been demonstrated recently in the mouse accessory olfactory bulb (AOB). Along with prolonged responses to stimuli and distinct network connectivity, they inexplicably affect the AOB processing of social relevant stimuli. Here, we show that assemblies of AOB mitral cells are synchronized by lateral interactions through chemical and electrical synapses. Using a network model, we demonstrate that the synchronous oscillations in these assemblies emerge from interplay between intrinsic membrane properties and network connectivity. As a consequence, the AOB network topology, in which each mitral cell receives input from multiple glomeruli, enables integration of chemosensory stimuli over extended time scales by interglomerular synchrony of infra-slow bursting. These results provide a possible functional significance for the distinct AOB physiology and topology. Beyond the AOB, this study presents a general model for synchronous infra-slow bursting in neuronal networks.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Infra-slow rhythmic neuronal activity with a very long (>10 s) duration has been described in many brain areas, but little is known about the role of this activity and the mechanisms that produce it. Here, we combine experimental and computational methods to show that synchronous infra-slow bursting activity in mitral cells of the mouse accessory olfactory bulb (AOB) emerges from interplay between intracellular dynamics and network connectivity. In this novel mechanism, slow intracellular Na(+) dynamics endow AOB mitral cells with a weak tendency to burst, which is further enhanced and stabilized by chemical and electrical synapses between them. Combined with the unique topology of the AOB network, infra-slow bursting enables integration and binding of multiple chemosensory stimuli over a prolonged time scale.
Berman, S, West KL, Does MD, Yeatman JD, Mezer AA.  2017.  Evaluating g-ratio weighted changes in the corpus callosum as a function of age and sex.. NeuroImage. Abstract
Recent years have seen a growing interest in relating MRI measurements to the structural-biophysical properties of white matter fibers. The fiber g-ratio, defined as the ratio between the inner and outer radii of the axon myelin sheath, is an important structural property of white matter, affecting signal conduction. Recently proposed modeling methods that use a combination of quantitative-MRI signals, enable a measurement of the fiber g-ratio in vivo. Here we use an MRI-based g-ratio estimation to observe the variance of the g-ratio within the corpus callosum, and evaluate sex and age related differences. To estimate the g-ratio we used a model (Stikov et al., 2011; Duval et al., 2017) based on two different WM microstructure parameters: the relative amounts of myelin (myelin volume fraction, MVF) and fibers (fiber volume fraction, FVF) in a voxel. We derived the FVF from the fractional anisotropy (FA), and estimated the MVF by using the lipid and macromolecular tissue volume (MTV), calculated from the proton density (Mezer et al., 2013). In comparison to other methods of estimating the MVF, MTV represents a stable parameter with a straightforward route of acquisition. To establish our model, we first compared histological MVF measurements (West et al., 2016) with the MRI derived MTV. We then implemented our model on a large database of 92 subjects (44 males), aged 7 to 81, in order to evaluate age and sex related changes within the corpus callosum. Our results show that the MTV provides a good estimation of MVF for calculating g-ratio, and produced values from the corpus callosum that correspond to those found in animals ex vivo and are close to the theoretical optimum, as well as to published in vivo data. Our results demonstrate that the MTV derived g-ratio provides a simple and reliable in vivo g-ratio-weighted (GR*) measurement in humans. In agreement with theoretical predictions, and unlike other tissue parameters measured with MRI, the g-ratio estimations were found to be relatively stable with age, and we found no support for a significant sexual dimorphism with age.
Goldstein, RH, Katz B, Lev S, Binshtok AM.  2017.  Ultrafast optical recording reveals distinct capsaicin-induced ion dynamics along single nociceptive neurite terminals in vitro.. Journal of Biomedical Optics. 22(7):76010.
Jaffe-Dax, S, Frenkel O, Ahissar M.  2017.  Dyslexics' faster decay of implicit memory for sounds and words is manifested in their shorter neural adaptation.. eLife. 6 Abstract
Dyslexia is a prevalent reading disability whose underlying mechanisms are still disputed. We studied the neural mechanisms underlying dyslexia using a simple frequency-discrimination task. Though participants were asked to compare the two tones in each trial, implicit memory of previous trials affected their responses. We hypothesized that implicit memory decays faster among dyslexics. We tested this by increasing the temporal intervals between consecutive trials, and by measuring the behavioral impact and ERP responses from the auditory cortex. Dyslexics showed a faster decay of implicit memory effects on both measures, with similar time constants. Finally, faster decay of implicit memory also characterized the impact of sound regularities in benefitting dyslexics' oral reading rate. Their benefit decreased faster as a function of the time interval from the previous reading of the same non-word. We propose that dyslexics' shorter neural adaptation paradoxically accounts for their longer reading times, since it reduces their temporal window of integration of past stimuli, resulting in noisier and less reliable predictions for both simple and complex stimuli. Less reliable predictions limit their acquisition of reading expertise.
Barkai, O, Goldstein RH, Caspi Y, Katz B, Lev S, Binshtok AM.  2017.  The Role of Kv7/M Potassium Channels in Controlling Ectopic Firing in Nociceptors.. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience. 10:181. Abstract
Peripheral nociceptive neurons encode and convey injury-inducing stimuli toward the central nervous system. In normal conditions, tight control of nociceptive resting potential prevents their spontaneous activation. However, in many pathological conditions the control of membrane potential is disrupted, leading to ectopic, stimulus-unrelated firing of nociceptive neurons, which is correlated to spontaneous pain. We have investigated the role of KV7/M channels in stabilizing membrane potential and impeding spontaneous firing of nociceptive neurons. These channels generate low voltage-activating, noninactivating M-type K(+) currents (M-current, IM ), which control neuronal excitability. Using perforated-patch recordings from cultured, rat nociceptor-like dorsal root ganglion neurons, we show that inhibition of M-current leads to depolarization of nociceptive neurons and generation of repetitive firing. To assess to what extent the M-current, acting at the nociceptive terminals, is able to stabilize terminals' membrane potential, thus preventing their ectopic activation, in normal and pathological conditions, we built a multi-compartment computational model of a pseudo-unipolar unmyelinated nociceptive neuron with a realistic terminal tree. The modeled terminal tree was based on the in vivo structure of nociceptive peripheral terminal, which we assessed by in vivo multiphoton imaging of GFP-expressing nociceptive neuronal terminals innervating mice hind paw. By modifying the conductance of the KV7/M channels at the modeled terminal tree (terminal gKV7/M) we have found that 40% of the terminal gKV7/M conductance is sufficient to prevent spontaneous firing, while ~75% of terminal gKV7/M is sufficient to inhibit stimulus induced activation of nociceptive neurons. Moreover, we showed that terminal M-current reduces susceptibility of nociceptive neurons to a small fluctuations of membrane potentials. Furthermore, we simulated how the interaction between terminal persistent sodium current and M-current affects the excitability of the neurons. We demonstrated that terminal M-current in nociceptive neurons impeded spontaneous firing even when terminal Na(V)1.9 channels conductance was substantially increased. On the other hand, when terminal gKV7/M was decreased, nociceptive neurons fire spontaneously after slight increase in terminal Na(V)1.9 conductance. Our results emphasize the pivotal role of M-current in stabilizing membrane potential and hereby in controlling nociceptive spontaneous firing, in normal and pathological conditions.