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Cerebral Cortex Advance Access

Published: Mon, 18 Sep 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2017 07:44:01 GMT


Optogenetic Inhibition of Medial Prefrontal Cortex–Pontine Nuclei Projections During the Stimulus-free Trace Interval Impairs Temporal Associative Motor Learning


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is closely involved in many higher-order cognitive functions, including learning to associate temporally discontiguous events (called temporal associative learning). However, direct evidence for the role of mPFC and the neural pathway underlying modulation of temporal associative motor learning is sparse. Here, we show that optogenetic inhibition of the mPFC or its axon terminals at the pontine nuclei (PN) during trace intervals or whole trial period significantly impaired the trace eyeblink conditioning (TEC), but had no significant effects on TEC during the conditioned stimulus or intertrial interval period. Our results suggest that activities associated with the mPFC–PN projection during trace intervals is crucial for trace associative motor learning. This finding is of great importance in understanding the mechanisms and the relevant neural pathways underlying mPFC modulation of temporal associative motor learning.

Human Parahippocampal Cortex Supports Spatial Binding in Visual Working Memory


Studies investigating the functional organization of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) suggest that parahippocampal cortex (PHC) generates representations of spatial and contextual information used by the hippocampus in the formation of episodic memories. However, evidence from animal studies also implicates PHC in spatial binding of visual information held in short term, working memory. Here we examined a 46-year-old man (P.J.), after he had recovered from bilateral medial occipitotemporal cortex strokes resulting in ischemic lesions of PHC and hippocampal atrophy, and a group of age-matched healthy controls. When recalling the color of 1 of 2 objects, P.J. misidentified the target when cued by its location, but not shape. When recalling the position of 1 of 3 objects, he frequently misidentified the target, which was cued by its color. Increasing the duration of the memory delay had no impact on the proportion of binding errors, but did significantly worsen recall precision in both P.J. and controls. We conclude that PHC may play a crucial role in spatial binding during encoding of visual information in working memory.

Comprehensive Morpho-Electrotonic Analysis Shows 2 Distinct Classes of L2 and L3 Pyramidal Neurons in Human Temporal Cortex


There have been few quantitative characterizations of the morphological, biophysical, and cable properties of neurons in the human neocortex. We employed feature-based statistical methods on a rare data set of 60 3D reconstructed pyramidal neurons from L2 and L3 in the human temporal cortex (HL2/L3 PCs) removed after brain surgery. Of these cells, 25 neurons were also characterized physiologically. Thirty-two morphological features were analyzed (e.g., dendritic surface area, 36 333 ± 18 157 μm2; number of basal trees, 5.55 ± 1.47; dendritic diameter, 0.76 ± 0.28 μm). Eighteen features showed a significant gradual increase with depth from the pia (e.g., dendritic length and soma radius). The other features showed weak or no correlation with depth (e.g., dendritic diameter). The basal dendritic terminals in HL2/L3 PCs are particularly elongated, enabling multiple nonlinear processing units in these dendrites. Unlike the morphological features, the active biophysical features (e.g., spike shapes and rates) and passive/cable features (e.g., somatic input resistance, 47.68 ± 15.26 MΩ, membrane time constant, 12.03 ± 1.79 ms, average dendritic cable length, 0.99 ± 0.24) were depth-independent. A novel descriptor for apical dendritic topology yielded 2 distinct classes, termed hereby as “slim-tufted” and “profuse-tufted” HL2/L3 PCs; the latter class tends to fire at higher rates. Thus, our morpho-electrotonic analysis shows 2 distinct classes of HL2/L3 PCs.