Ketamine normalizes high-gamma power in the anterior cingulate cortex in a rat chronic pain model
Chronic pain alters cortical and subcortical plasticity, causing enhanced sensory and affective responses to peripheral nociceptive inputs. Previous studies have shown that ketamine had the potential to inhibit abnormally amplified affective responses of single neurons by suppressing hyperactivity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). However, the mechanism of this enduring effect has yet to be understood at the network level. In this study, we recorded local field potentials from the ACC of freely moving rats. Animals were injected with complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) to induce persistent inflammatory pain. Mechanical stimulations were administered to the hind paw before and after CFA administration. We found a significant increase in the high-gamma band (60-100Â Hz) power in response to evoked pain after CFA treatment. Ketamine, however, reduced the high-gamma band power in response to evoked pain in CFA-treated rats. In addition, ketamine had a sustained effect on the high-gamma band power lasting up to five days after a single dose administration. These results demonstrate that ketamine has the potential to alter maladaptive neural responses in the ACC induced by chronic pain.
Uncovering spatial representations from spatiotemporal patterns of rodent hippocampal field potentials
Spatiotemporal patterns of large-scale spiking and field potentials of the rodent hippocampus encode spatial representations during maze runs, immobility, and sleep. Here, we show that multisite hippocampal field potential amplitude at ultra-high-frequency band (FPAuhf), a generalized form of multiunit activity, provides not only a fast and reliable reconstruction of the rodent's position when awake, but also a readout of replay content during sharp-wave ripples. This FPAuhf feature may serve as a robust real-time decoding strategy from large-scale recordings in closed-loop experiments. Furthermore, we develop unsupervised learning approaches to extract low-dimensional spatiotemporal FPAuhf features during run and ripple periods and to infer latent dynamical structures from lower-rank FPAuhf features. We also develop an optical flow-based method to identify propagating spatiotemporal LFP patterns from multisite array recordings, which can be used as a decoding application. Finally, we develop a prospective decoding strategy to predict an animal's future decision in goal-directed navigation.
Disrupted population coding in the prefrontal cortex underlies pain aversion
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) regulates a wide range of sensory experiences. Chronic pain is known to impair normal neural response, leading to enhanced aversion. However, it remains unknown how nociceptive responses in the cortex are processed at the population level and whether such processes are disrupted by chronic pain. Using inÂ vivo endoscopic calcium imaging, we identify increased population activity in response to noxious stimuli and stable patterns of functional connectivity among neurons in the prelimbic (PL) PFC from freely behaving rats. Inflammatory pain disrupts functional connectivity of PFC neurons and reduces the overall nociceptive response. Interestingly, ketamine, a well-known neuromodulator, restores the functional connectivity among PL-PFC neurons in the inflammatory pain model to produce anti-aversive effects. These results suggest a dynamic resource allocation mechanism in the prefrontal representations of pain and indicate that population activity in the PFC critically regulates pain and serves as an important therapeutic target.
Decoding pain from brain activity
Pain is a dynamic, complex and multidimensional experience. The identification of pain from brain activity as neural readout may effectively provide a neural code for pain, and further provide useful information for pain diagnosis and treatment. Advances in neuroimaging and large-scale electrophysiology have enabled us to examine neural activity with improved spatial and temporal resolution, providing opportunities to decode pain in humans and freely behaving animals. This topical review provides a systematical overview of state-of-the-art methods for decoding pain from brain signals, with special emphasis on electrophysiological and neuroimaging modalities. We show how pain decoding analyses can help pain diagnosis and discovery of neurobiomarkers for chronic pain. Finally, we discuss the challenges in the research field and point to several important future research directions.
Stimulus-Driven and Spontaneous Dynamics in Excitatory-Inhibitory Recurrent Neural Networks for Sequence Representation
Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) have been widely used to model sequential neural dynamics ("neural sequences") of cortical circuits in cognitive and motor tasks. Efforts to incorporate biological constraints and Dale's principle will help elucidate the neural representations and mechanisms of underlying circuits. We trained an excitatory-inhibitory RNN to learn neural sequences in a supervised manner and studied the representations and dynamic attractors of the trained network. The trained RNN was robust to trigger the sequence in response to various input signals and interpolated a time-warped input for sequence representation. Interestingly, a learned sequence can repeat periodically when the RNN evolved beyond the duration of a single sequence. The eigenspectrum of the learned recurrent connectivity matrix with growing or damping modes, together with the RNN's nonlinearity, were adequate to generate a limit cycle attractor. We further examined the stability of dynamic attractors while training the RNN to learn two sequences. Together, our results provide a general framework for understanding neural sequence representation in the excitatory-inhibitory RNN.
A geometric framework for understanding dynamic information integration in context-dependent computation
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a prominent role in performing flexible cognitive functions and working memory, yet the underlying computational principle remains poorly understood. Here, we trained a rate-based recurrent neural network (RNN) to explore how the context rules are encoded, maintained across seconds-long mnemonic delay, and subsequently used in a context-dependent decision-making task. The trained networks replicated key experimentally observed features in the PFC of rodent and monkey experiments, such as mixed selectivity, neuronal sequential activity, and rotation dynamics. To uncover the high-dimensional neural dynamical system, we further proposed a geometric framework to quantify and visualize population coding and sensory integration in a temporally defined manner. We employed dynamic epoch-wise principal component analysis (PCA) to define multiple task-specific subspaces and task-related axes, and computed the angles between task-related axes and these subspaces. In low-dimensional neural representations, the trained RNN first encoded the context cues in a cue-specific subspace, and then maintained the cue information with a stable low-activity state persisting during the delay epoch, and further formed line attractors for sensor integration through low-dimensional neural trajectories to guide decision-making. We demonstrated via intensive computer simulations that the geometric manifolds encoding the context information were robust to varying degrees of weight perturbation in both space and time. Overall, our analysis framework provides clear geometric interpretations and quantification of information coding, maintenance, and integration, yielding new insight into the computational mechanisms of context-dependent computation.
The impact of a closed-loop thalamocortical model on the spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical and thalamic traveling waves
Propagation of activity in spatially structured neuronal networks has been observed in awake, anesthetized, and sleeping brains. How these wave patterns emerge and organize across brain structures, and how network connectivity affects spatiotemporal neural activity remains unclear. Here, we develop a computational model of a two-dimensional thalamocortical network, which gives rise to emergent traveling waves similar to those observed experimentally. We illustrate how spontaneous and evoked oscillatory activity in space and time emerge using a closed-loop thalamocortical architecture, sustaining smooth waves in the cortex and staggered waves in the thalamus. We further show that intracortical and thalamocortical network connectivity, cortical excitation/inhibition balance, and thalamocortical or corticothalamic delay can independently or jointly change the spatiotemporal patterns (radial, planar and rotating waves) and characteristics (speed, direction, and frequency) of cortical and thalamic traveling waves. Computer simulations predict that increased thalamic inhibition induces slower cortical frequencies and that enhanced cortical excitation increases traveling wave speed and frequency. Overall, our results provide insight into the genesis and sustainability of thalamocortical spatiotemporal patterns, showing how simple synaptic alterations cause varied spontaneous and evoked wave patterns. Our model and simulations highlight the need for spatially spread neural recordings to uncover critical circuit mechanisms for brain functions.
A prototype closed-loop brain-machine interface for the study and treatment of pain
Chronic pain is characterized by discrete pain episodes of unpredictable frequency and duration. This hinders the study of pain mechanisms and contributes to the use of pharmacological treatments associated with side effects, addiction and drug tolerance. Here, we show that a closed-loop brain-machine interface (BMI) can modulate sensory-affective experiences in real time in freely behaving rats by coupling neural codes for nociception directly with therapeutic cortical stimulation. The BMI decodes the onset of nociception via a state-space model on the basis of the analysis of online-sorted spikes recorded from the anterior cingulate cortex (which is critical for pain processing) and couples real-time pain detection with optogenetic activation of the prelimbic prefrontal cortex (which exerts top-down nociceptive regulation). In rats, the BMI effectively inhibited sensory and affective behaviours caused by acute mechanical or thermal pain, and by chronic inflammatory or neuropathic pain. The approach provides a blueprint for demand-based neuromodulation to treat sensory-affective disorders, and could be further leveraged for nociceptive control and to study pain mechanisms.
Fear Extinction Learning Modulates Large-scale Brain Connectivity
Exploring the neural circuits of the extinction of conditioned fear is critical to advance our understanding of fear- and anxiety-related disorders. The field has focused on examining the role of various regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, insular cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala in conditioned fear and its extinction. The contribution of this 'fear network' to the conscious awareness of fear has recently been questioned. And as such, there is a need to examine higher/multiple cortical systems that might contribute to the conscious feeling of fear and anxiety. Herein, we studied functional connectivity patterns across the entire brain to examine the contribution of multiple networks to the acquisition of fear extinction learning and its retrieval. We conducted trial-by-trial analyses on data from 137 healthy participants who underwent a two-day fear conditioning and extinction paradigm in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. We found that functional connectivity across a broad range of brain regions, many of which are part of the default mode, frontoparietal, and ventral attention networks, increased from early to late extinction learning only to a conditioned cue. The increased connectivity during extinction learning predicted the magnitude of extinction memory tested 24 hours later. Together, these findings provide evidence supporting recent studies implicating distributed brain regions in learning, consolidation and expression of fear extinction memory in the human brain.
Improving scalability in systems neuroscience
Emerging technologies to acquire data at increasingly greater scales promise to transform discovery in systems neuroscience. However, current exponential growth in the scale of data acquisition is a double-edged sword. Scaling up data acquisition can speed up the cycle of discovery but can also misinterpret the results or possibly slow down the cycle because of challenges presented by the curse of high-dimensional data. Active, adaptive, closed-loop experimental paradigms use hardware and algorithms optimized to enable time-critical computation to provide feedback that interprets the observations and tests hypotheses to actively update the stimulus or stimulation parameters. In this perspective, we review important concepts of active and adaptive experiments and discuss how selectively constraining the dimensionality and optimizing strategies at different stages of discovery loop can help mitigate the curse of high-dimensional data. Active and adaptive closed-loop experimental paradigms can speed up discovery despite an exponentially increasing data scale, offering a road map to timely and iterative hypothesis revision and discovery in an era of exponential growth in neuroscience.