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Cell Rep. 2019 Feb 19;26(8):2000-2008.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.01.093.

Reinforcement Learning Recruits Somata and Apical Dendrites across Layers of Primary Sensory Cortex.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, Mortimer Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA; Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
2
Department of Statistics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Mortimer Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA; Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA; Department of Statistics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA; Grossman Center for the Statistics of Mind, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
4
Department of Neuroscience, Mortimer Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA; Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA. Electronic address: randybruno@columbia.edu.

Abstract

The mammalian brain can form associations between behaviorally relevant stimuli in an animal's environment. While such learning is thought to primarily involve high-order association cortex, even primary sensory areas receive long-range connections carrying information that could contribute to high-level representations. Here, we imaged layer 1 apical dendrites in the barrel cortex of mice performing a whisker-based operant behavior. In addition to sensory-motor events, calcium signals in apical dendrites of layers 2/3 and 5 neurons and in layer 2/3 somata track the delivery of rewards, both choice related and randomly administered. Reward-related tuft-wide dendritic spikes emerge gradually with training and are task specific. Learning recruits cells whose intrinsic activity coincides with the time of reinforcement. Layer 4 largely lacked reward-related signals, suggesting a source other than the primary thalamus. Our results demonstrate that a sensory cortex can acquire a set of associations outside its immediate sensory modality and linked to salient behavioral events.

KEYWORDS:

GCaMP; apical dendrites; barrel cortex; detection; reward; two-photon; vibrissa; voltage-gated calcium

PMID:
30784583
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2019.01.093
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