Spatial gradients and multidimensional dynamics in a neural integrator circuit

Nat Neurosci. 2011 Aug 21;14(9):1150-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.2888.


In a neural integrator, the variability and topographical organization of neuronal firing-rate persistence can provide information about the circuit's functional architecture. We used optical recording to measure the time constant of decay of persistent firing (persistence time) across a population of neurons comprising the larval zebrafish oculomotor velocity-to-position neural integrator. We found extensive persistence time variation (tenfold; coefficients of variation = 0.58-1.20) across cells in individual larvae. We also found that the similarity in firing between two neurons decreased as the distance between them increased and that a gradient in persistence time was mapped along the rostrocaudal and dorsoventral axes. This topography is consistent with the emergence of persistence time heterogeneity from a circuit architecture in which nearby neurons are more strongly interconnected than distant ones. Integrator circuit models characterized by multiple dimensions of slow firing-rate dynamics can account for our results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Computer Simulation
  • Eye Movements / genetics
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Larva
  • Light
  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor / deficiency
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins / deficiency
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics


  • Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • mitfa protein, zebrafish
  • Calcium