October 27, 2020

Brain-wide mapping of neural activity mediating collicular-dependent behaviors

Neuronal cell-types are arranged in brain-wide circuits to guide behavior. In mice, the superior colliculus is comprised of a set of cell-types that each innervate distinct downstream targets. Here we reveal the brain-wide networks downstream of four collicular cell-types by combining functional ultrasound imaging (fUSi) with optogenetics to monitor neural activity at a resolution of ~100 m. Each neuronal group triggered different behaviors, and activated distinct, partially overlapping sets of brain nuclei. This included regions not previously thought to mediate defensive behaviors, e.g. the posterior paralaminar nuclei of the thalamus (PPnT), that we show to play a role in suppressing habituation. Electrophysiological recordings support the fUSi findings and show that neurons in the downstream nuclei preferentially respond to innately threatening visual stimuli. This work provides insight into the functional organization of the networks governing defensive behaviors and demonstrates an experimental approach to explore the whole-brain neuronal activity downstream of targeted cell-types

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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