The emergence of a stable neuronal ensemble from a wider pool of activated neurons in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex during appetitive learning in mice

Brebner, Leonie S, Ziminski, Joseph J, Margetts-Smith, Gabriella, Sieburg, Meike C, Reeve, Hayley M, Nowotny, Thomas, Hirrlinger, Johannes, Heintz, Tristan G, Lagnado, Leon, Kato, Shigeki, Kobayashi, Kazuto, Ramsey, Leslie A, Hall, Catherine N, Crombag, Hans S and Koya, Eisuke (2019) The emergence of a stable neuronal ensemble from a wider pool of activated neurons in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex during appetitive learning in mice. The Journal of Neuroscience. pp. 1496-1519. ISSN 0270-6474

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Abstract

Animals selectively respond to environmental cues associated with food reward to optimize nutrient intake. Such appetitive CS-US associations are thought to be encoded in select, stable neuronal populations or neuronal ensembles, which undergo physiological modifications during appetitive conditioning. These ensembles in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) control well-established, cue-evoked food seeking, but the mechanisms involved in the genesis of these ensembles are unclear. Here, we utilized male Fos-GFP mice that express the green fluorescent protein (GFP) in recently behaviorally-activated neurons, to reveal how dorsal mPFC neurons are recruited and modified to encode CS-US memory representations using an appetitive conditioning task. In the initial conditioning session, animals did not exhibit discriminated, cue-selective food seeking, but did so in later sessions indicating that a CS-US association was established. Using microprism-based in vivo 2-Photon imaging, we revealed that only a minority of neurons activated during the initial session was consistently activated throughout subsequent conditioning sessions and during cue-evoked memory recall. Notably, using ex vivo electrophysiology we found that neurons activated following the initial session exhibited transient hyper-excitability. Chemogenetically enhancing the excitability of these neurons throughout subsequent conditioning sessions interfered with the development of reliable cue-selective food seeking, indicated by persistent, non-discriminated performance. We demonstrate how appetitive learning consistently activates a subset of neurons to form a stable neuronal ensemble during the formation of a CS-US association. This ensemble may arise from a pool of hyper-excitable neurons activated during the initial conditioning session.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Neuroscience
Depositing User: Sanjeedah Choudhury
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 08:55
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2019 15:15
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/88034

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