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Corticostriatal neurons in auditory cortex drive decisions during auditory discrimination



The neural pathways by which information about the acoustic world reaches the auditory cortex are well characterized, but how auditory representations are transformed into motor commands is not known. Here we use a perceptual decision-making task in rats to study this transformation. We demonstrate the role of corticostriatal projection neurons in auditory decisions by manipulating the activity of these neurons in rats performing an auditory frequency-discrimination task. Targeted channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2)1,2-mediated stimulation of corticostriatal neurons during the task biased decisions in the direction predicted by the frequency tuning of the stimulated neurons, whereas archaerhodopsin-3 (Arch)3-mediated inactivation biased decisions in the opposite direction. Striatal projections are widespread in cortex and may provide a general mechanism for the control of motor decisions by sensory cortex.

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Figure 1: Cloud-of-tones task.
Figure 2: ChR2 stimulation of corticostriatal neurons biases subjects’ choices.
Figure 3: Arch-mediated inactivation of corticostriatal neurons anti-biases subjects’ choices.
Figure 4: Estimation of numbers of neurons affected by Arch inactivation.


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We thank B. Burbach for technical assistance, A. Reid for generating the AAV-FLEX-Arch–GFP construct and members of the Kepecs laboratory (CSHL) for the tetrode and fibre drive design. We thank K. Britten for comments and suggestions on the manuscript. AAV-CAGGS-ChR2-Venus plasmid was provided by K. Svoboda. AAV-CAGGS-FLEX-ChR2-tdTomato virus was a gift from A. Kepecs. AAV-CAG-Arch–GFP plasmid was provided by E. Boyden. AAV-EF1a-FLEX-ChR2-YFP was provided by K. Deisseroth. HSV–iCre-2A-Venus and HSV–mCherry-IRES–iCre constructs were provided by A. Luthi and packaged by BioVex. This work was supported by grants from the Swartz Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers 25041001 and 55120101).

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Authors and Affiliations



P.Z. and A.M.Z. designed the experiments, P.Z. carried out the experiments, and P.Z. and A.M.Z. analysed the data and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Anthony M. Zador.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Znamenskiy, P., Zador, A. Corticostriatal neurons in auditory cortex drive decisions during auditory discrimination. Nature 497, 482–485 (2013).

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