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      Basal Forebrain Activation Enhances Cortical Coding of Natural Scenes

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      Nature neuroscience

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          Abstract

          The nucleus basalis (NB) of the basal forebrain is an essential component of the neuromodulatory system controlling the behavioral state of an animal, and it is thought to play key roles in regulating arousal and attention. However, the effect of NB activation on sensory processing remains poorly understood. Using polytrode recording in rat visual cortex, we show that NB stimulation causes prominent decorrelation between neurons and marked improvement in the reliability of neuronal responses to natural scenes. The decorrelation depends on local activation of cortical muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, while the increased reliability involves distributed neural circuits, as evidenced by NB-induced changes in thalamic responses. Further analysis showed that the decorrelation and increased reliability improve cortical representation of natural stimuli in a complementary manner. Thus, the basal forebrain neuromodulatory circuit, which is known to be activated during aroused and attentive states, acts through both local and distributed mechanisms to improve sensory coding.

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          Most cited references 48

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          Internal brain state regulates membrane potential synchrony in barrel cortex of behaving mice.

          Internal brain states form key determinants for sensory perception, sensorimotor coordination and learning. A prominent reflection of different brain states in the mammalian central nervous system is the presence of distinct patterns of cortical synchrony, as revealed by extracellular recordings of the electroencephalogram, local field potential and action potentials. Such temporal correlations of cortical activity are thought to be fundamental mechanisms of neuronal computation. However, it is unknown how cortical synchrony is reflected in the intracellular membrane potential (V(m)) dynamics of behaving animals. Here we show, using dual whole-cell recordings from layer 2/3 primary somatosensory barrel cortex in behaving mice, that the V(m) of nearby neurons is highly correlated during quiet wakefulness. However, when the mouse is whisking, an internally generated state change reduces the V(m) correlation, resulting in a desynchronized local field potential and electroencephalogram. Action potential activity was sparse during both quiet wakefulness and active whisking. Single action potentials were driven by a large, brief and specific excitatory input that was not present in the V(m) of neighbouring cells. Action potential initiation occurs with a higher signal-to-noise ratio during active whisking than during quiet periods. Therefore, we show that an internal brain state dynamically regulates cortical membrane potential synchrony during behaviour and defines different modes of cortical processing.
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            The locus coeruleus-noradrenergic system: modulation of behavioral state and state-dependent cognitive processes.

            Through a widespread efferent projection system, the locus coeruleus-noradrenergic system supplies norepinephrine throughout the central nervous system. Initial studies provided critical insight into the basic organization and properties of this system. More recent work identifies a complicated array of behavioral and electrophysiological actions that have in common the facilitation of processing of relevant, or salient, information. This involves two basic levels of action. First, the system contributes to the initiation and maintenance of behavioral and forebrain neuronal activity states appropriate for the collection of sensory information (e.g. waking). Second, within the waking state, this system modulates the collection and processing of salient sensory information through a diversity of concentration-dependent actions within cortical and subcortical sensory, attention, and memory circuits. Norepinephrine-dependent modulation of long-term alterations in synaptic strength, gene transcription and other processes suggest a potentially critical role of this neurotransmitter system in experience-dependent alterations in neural function and behavior. The ability of a given stimulus to increase locus coeruleus discharge activity appears independent of affective valence (appetitive vs. aversive). Combined, these observations suggest that the locus coeruleus-noradrenergic system is a critical component of the neural architecture supporting interaction with, and navigation through, a complex world. These observations further suggest that dysregulation of locus coeruleus-noradrenergic neurotransmission may contribute to cognitive and/or arousal dysfunction associated with a variety of psychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, sleep and arousal disorders, as well as certain affective disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Independent of an etiological role in these disorders, the locus coeruleus-noradrenergic system represents an appropriate target for pharmacological treatment of specific attention, memory and/or arousal dysfunction associated with a variety of behavioral/cognitive disorders.
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              Interaction of sensory responses with spontaneous depolarization in layer 2/3 barrel cortex.

              The rodent primary somatosensory cortex is spontaneously active in the form of locally synchronous membrane depolarizations (UP states) separated by quiescent hyperpolarized periods (DOWN states) both under anesthesia and during quiet wakefulness. In vivo whole-cell recordings and tetrode unit recordings were combined with voltage-sensitive dye imaging to analyze the relationship of the activity of individual pyramidal neurons in layer 2/3 to the ensemble spatiotemporal dynamics of the spontaneous depolarizations. These were either brief and localized to an area of a barrel column or occurred as propagating waves dependent on local glutamatergic synaptic transmission in layer 2/3. Spontaneous activity inhibited the sensory responses evoked by whisker deflection, accounting almost entirely for the large trial-to-trial variability of sensory-evoked postsynaptic potentials and action potentials. Subthreshold sensory synaptic responses evoked while a cortical area was spontaneously depolarized were smaller, briefer and spatially more confined. Surprisingly, whisker deflections evoked fewer action potentials during the spontaneous depolarizations despite neurons being closer to threshold. The ongoing spontaneous activity thus regulates the amplitude and the time-dependent spread of the sensory response in layer 2/3 barrel cortex.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                9809671
                21092
                Nat Neurosci
                Nat. Neurosci.
                Nature neuroscience
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                8 February 2013
                04 October 2009
                November 2009
                20 February 2013
                : 12
                : 11
                : 1444-1449
                Affiliations
                Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Helen Wills Institute of Neuroscience, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
                Author notes
                [+ ]To whom the correspondence should be addressed: Yang Dan: Phone: 510-643-2833, ydan@ 123456berkeley.edu
                Article
                NIHMS140658
                10.1038/nn.2402
                3576925
                19801988

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                Neurosciences

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