ICLM Journal Club

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This Week - 04 June 2021 (9:30 a.m., via Zoom)

Speaker: Megha Sehgal

Title: “ Cortical response selectivity derives from strength in numbers of synapses ”

Abstract: Single neocortical neurons are driven by populations of excitatory inputs, which form the basis of neuronal selectivity to features of sensory input. Excitatory connections are thought to mature during development through activity-dependent Hebbian plasticity, whereby similarity between presynaptic and postsynaptic activity selectively strengthens some synapses and weakens others. Evidence in support of this process includes measurements of synaptic ultrastructure and in vitro and in vivo physiology and imaging studies. These corroborating lines of evidence lead to the prediction that a small number of strong synaptic inputs drive neuronal selectivity, whereas weak synaptic inputs are less correlated with the somatic output and modulate activity overall. Supporting evidence from cortical circuits, however, has been limited to measurements of neighbouring, connected cell pairs, raising the question of whether this prediction holds for a broad range of synapses converging onto cortical neurons. Here we measure the strengths of functionally characterized excitatory inputs contacting single pyramidal neurons in ferret primary visual cortex (V1) by combining in vivo two-photon synaptic imaging and post hoc electron microscopy. Using electron microscopy reconstruction of individual synapses as a metric of strength, we find no evidence that strong synapses have a predominant role in the selectivity of cortical neuron responses to visual stimuli. Instead, selectivity appears to arise from the total number of synapses activated by different stimuli. Moreover, spatial clustering of co-active inputs appears to be reserved for weaker synapses, enhancing the contribution of weak synapses to somatic responses. Our results challenge the role of Hebbian mechanisms in shaping neuronal selectivity in cortical circuits, and suggest that selectivity reflects the co-activation of large populations of presynaptic neurons with similar properties and a mixture of strengths.

Blurb: Neurons receive diverse synaptic inputs but it is unclear which synaptic properties (strength, number or spatial organization) ultimately decides neuronal selectivity? Using 2 photon calcium imaging and electron microscopy, Scholl et al. demonstrate that neuronal selectivity is driven by strength in numbers and weaker synapses cluster together to drive somatic output.

Relevant Papers: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03044-3#article-info



About Us


The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory (ICLM) is a multidisciplinary center of UCLA labs devoted to understanding the neural basis of learning and memory and its disorders. This will require a unified approach across different levels of analysis, including;

1. Elucidating the molecular cellular and systems mechanisms that allow neurons and synapses to undergo the long-term changes that ultimately correspond to 'neural memories'.

2. Understanding how functional dynamics and computations emerge from complex circuits of neurons, and how plasticity governs these processes.

3. Describing the neural systems in which different forms of learning and memory take place, and how these systems interact to ultimately generate behavior and cognition.

History of ICLM

The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory formally LMP started in its current form in 1998, and has served as a platform for many interactions and collaborations within UCLA. A key event organized by the group is the weekly ICLM Journal Club. For more than 10 years, graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and invited speakers have presented on topics ranging from the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, through computational models of learning, to behavior and cognition. Dean Buonomano oversees the ICLM journal club with help of student/post doctoral organizers. For other events organized by ICLM go to http://www.iclm.ucla.edu/Events.html.

Current Organizers:

Megha Sehgal (Silva Lab) & Giselle Fernandes (Silva Lab). Please email us at iclm.journalclub@gmail.com if you would like to get regular updates regarding our journal club and weekly reminders.

Current Faculty Advisor:

Dean Buonomano

Past Organizers:

i) Anna Matynia(Aug 2004 - Jun 2008) (Silva Lab)

ii) Robert Brown (Aug 2008 - Jun 2009) (Balleine Lab)

iii) Balaji Jayaprakash (Aug 2008 - Nov 2011) (Silva Lab)

iv) Justin Shobe & Thomas Rogerson (Dec 2011 - June 2013) (Silva Lab)

v) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) (2013-2014)

vi) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) & Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) (2014-2017)

vii) Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) & Shonali Dhingra (Mehta Lab) (2017-2018)

viii) Shonali Dhingra (Mehta Lab) (2018-2020)

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