Choice-specific Sequences in Parietal Cortex During a Virtual-Navigation Decision Task

Nature. 2012 Mar 14;484(7392):62-8. doi: 10.1038/nature10918.

Abstract

The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) has an important role in many cognitive behaviours; however, the neural circuit dynamics underlying PPC function are not well understood. Here we optically imaged the spatial and temporal activity patterns of neuronal populations in mice performing a PPC-dependent task that combined a perceptual decision and memory-guided navigation in a virtual environment. Individual neurons had transient activation staggered relative to one another in time, forming a sequence of neuronal activation spanning the entire length of a task trial. Distinct sequences of neurons were triggered on trials with opposite behavioural choices and defined divergent, choice-specific trajectories through a state space of neuronal population activity. Cells participating in the different sequences and at distinct time points in the task were anatomically intermixed over microcircuit length scales (<100 micrometres). During working memory decision tasks, the PPC may therefore perform computations through sequence-based circuit dynamics, rather than long-lived stable states, implemented using anatomically intermingled microcircuits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Neurological
  • Parietal Lobe / cytology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • User-Computer Interface*