Prof. Petersen's Lab: Anastasiia Oryshchuk "Experience-dependent representation of sensory-, motor- and decision-related activity in primary sensory, motor, and medial prefrontal cortical areas"
New date & hybrid - By invitation only
Goal-directed behavior requires processing of incoming sensory information, making appropriate decisions, and generating relevant motor outputs. Yet, how these diverse aspects of sensorimotor transformation arise within the intricate neuronal networks of the mammalian brain remains to be determined. Here, we investigated sensory, decision, and motor signals in the whisker primary somatosensory cortex (wS1), the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and the tongue-jaw primary motor cortex (tjM1) in mice trained to lick for reward in response to a brief single-whisker stimulus of varying amplitude. Optogenetic inactivation demonstrated the causal involvement of all three areas during task execution. We then performed high-density extracellular recordings of neuronal firing in wS1, mPFC, and tjM1 of mice trained in the whisker-detection task (Trained mice). To understand task-specific neuronal representations, we recorded in another group of mice that were exposed to the same whisker stimuli, but without being associated to reward (Exposed mice). Sensory-evoked activity in the absence of licking (i.e. Miss trials) was almost exclusively found in wS1 and correlated with stimulus amplitude in both Trained and Exposed mice. All three cortical regions were strongly modulated by licking in both Trained and Exposed mice, but only tjM1 neuronal activity was unchanged comparing spontaneous (False alarms) and whisker-evoked (Hit trials) licking. Finally, decision-encoding neurons - with selective activity for Hit trials, but not Miss or False alarm trials - were found mostly in mPFC and wS1. Our results point to distinct yet inter-related roles of cortical regions for goal-directed sensorimotor transformation.