Post-error recruitment of frontal sensory cortical projections promotes attention in mice

Neuron. 2021 Apr 7;109(7):1202-1213.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.02.001. Epub 2021 Feb 19.


The frontal cortex, especially the anterior cingulate cortex area (ACA), is essential for exerting cognitive control after errors, but the mechanisms that enable modulation of attention to improve performance after errors are poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that during a mouse visual attention task, ACA neurons projecting to the visual cortex (VIS; ACAVIS neurons) are recruited selectively by recent errors. Optogenetic manipulations of this pathway collectively support the model that rhythmic modulation of ACAVIS neurons in anticipation of visual stimuli is crucial for adjusting performance following errors. 30-Hz optogenetic stimulation of ACAVIS neurons in anesthetized mice recapitulates the increased gamma and reduced theta VIS oscillatory changes that are associated with endogenous post-error performance during behavior and subsequently increased visually evoked spiking, a hallmark feature of visual attention. This frontal sensory neural circuit links error monitoring with implementing adjustments of attention to guide behavioral adaptation, pointing to a circuit-based mechanism for promoting cognitive control.

Keywords: attention; cognitive control; error monitoring; frontal cortex; frontal sensory cortical projection; top-down; visual cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Optogenetics
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology