Behavior-dependent short-term assembly dynamics in the medial prefrontal cortex

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Abstract

Although short-term plasticity is believed to play a fundamental role in cortical computation, empirical evidence bearing on its role during behavior is scarce. Here we looked for the signature of short-term plasticity in the fine-timescale spiking relationships of a simultaneously recorded population of physiologically identified pyramidal cells and interneurons, in the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat, in a working memory task. On broader timescales, sequentially organized and transiently active neurons reliably differentiated between different trajectories of the rat in the maze. On finer timescales, putative monosynaptic interactions reflected short-term plasticity in their dynamic and predictable modulation across various aspects of the task, beyond a statistical accounting for the effect of the neurons' co-varying firing rates. Seeking potential mechanisms for such effects, we found evidence for both firing pattern–dependent facilitation and depression, as well as for a supralinear effect of presynaptic coincidence on the firing of postsynaptic targets.

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Figure 1: Large-scale recording of multiple single units from mPFC in a working memory task.
Figure 2: Behavior- and position-selective firing activity of PFC single neurons.
Figure 3: Physiological identification of pyramidal cells and interneurons.
Figure 4: Task-dependent changes in monosynaptic interactions.
Figure 5: Task-dependent changes of monosynaptic interactions are demonstrable beyond a statistical accounting for firing rate changes.
Figure 6: Spike transmission efficacy depends on the firing pattern of the presynaptic neuron.
Figure 7: Coincident firing of more than one neuron facilitates spike transmission.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Sirota for help with data analysis and D. Robbe, K. Mizuseki, A. Renart, E. Pastalkova, S. Sakata and S. Ozen for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NS34994, MH54671), the James S. McDonnell Foundation, a US National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biological Informatics (A.A.), the Uehara Memorial Foundation, the Naito Foundation, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (S.F.) and the US National Science Foundation (DMS-0240019) and US National Institutes of Health (MH064537) (M.T.H.). We dedicate this paper to Jenny Chandra Amarasingham.

Author information

This study was the product of an intensive collaboration between S.F. and A.A. S.F. and G.B. designed the project, S.F. conducted the experiments, A.A. and M.T.H. designed the statistical methods, S.F. and A.A. analyzed the data and A.A., S.F. and G.B. wrote the paper.

Correspondence to György Buzsáki.

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Fujisawa, S., Amarasingham, A., Harrison, M. et al. Behavior-dependent short-term assembly dynamics in the medial prefrontal cortex. Nat Neurosci 11, 823–833 (2008) doi:10.1038/nn.2134

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