Layer 5 pyramidal neurons of sensory cortices project “corticofugal” axons to myriad sub-cortical targets, thereby broadcasting high-level signals important for perception and learning. Recent studies suggest dendritic Ca2+ spikes as key biophysical mechanisms supporting corticofugal neuron function: these long-lasting events drive burst firing, thereby initiating uniquely powerful signals to modulate sub-cortical representations and trigger learning-related plasticity. However, the behavioral relevance of corticofugal dendritic spikes is poorly understood. We shed light on this issue using 2-photon Ca2+ imaging of auditory corticofugal dendrites as mice of either sex engage in a GO/NO-GO sound-discrimination task. Unexpectedly, only a minority of dendritic spikes were triggered by behaviorally relevant sounds under our conditions. Task related dendritic activity instead mostly followed sound cue termination and co-occurred with mice’s instrumental licking during the answer period of behavioral trials, irrespective of reward consumption. Temporally selective, optogenetic silencing of corticofugal neurons during the trial answer period impaired auditory discrimination learning. Thus, auditory corticofugal systems’ contribution to learning and plasticity may be partially nonsensory in nature.

If you do not see content above, kindly GO TO SOURCE.
Not all publishers encode content in a way that enables republishing at

This post is Copyright: Ford, A. N., Czarny, J. E., Rogalla, M. M., Quass, G. L., Apostolides, P. F. | February 15, 2024
Journal of Neuroscience current issue