Dynamic Reorganization of Neuronal Activity Patterns in Parietal Cortex

Cell. 2017 Aug 24;170(5):986-999.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.021. Epub 2017 Aug 17.


Neuronal representations change as associations are learned between sensory stimuli and behavioral actions. However, it is poorly understood whether representations for learned associations stabilize in cortical association areas or continue to change following learning. We tracked the activity of posterior parietal cortex neurons for a month as mice stably performed a virtual-navigation task. The relationship between cells' activity and task features was mostly stable on single days but underwent major reorganization over weeks. The neurons informative about task features (trial type and maze locations) changed across days. Despite changes in individual cells, the population activity had statistically similar properties each day and stable information for over a week. As mice learned additional associations, new activity patterns emerged in the neurons used for existing representations without greatly affecting the rate of change of these representations. We propose that dynamic neuronal activity patterns could balance plasticity for learning and stability for memory.

Keywords: chronic imaging; in vivo calcium imaging; learning; mouse parietal cortex; navigation; optogenetics; population dynamics; virtual reality.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Optogenetics
  • Parietal Lobe / cytology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Single-Cell Analysis