Experimental data from "Sequential Transmission of Task-Relevant Information in Cortical Neuronal Networks"

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"Sequential Transmission of Task-Relevant Information in Cortical Neuronal Networks", Nikolas A. Francis, Shoutik Mukherjee, Loren Koçillari, Stefano Panzeri, Behtash Babadi, Patrick O. Kanold, bioRxiv 2021.08.31.458395.


During auditory task performance, cortical processing of task-relevant information enables mammals to recognize sensory input and flexibly select behavioral responses. In mouse auditory cortex, small neuronal networks encode behavioral choice during a pure-tone detection task, but it is poorly understood how neuronal networks encode behavioral choice during a pure-tone discrimination task where tones have to be categorized into targets and non-targets. While the interactions between networked neurons are thought to encode behavioral choice, it remains unclear how patterns of neuronal network activity indicate the transmission of task-relevant information within the network. To this end, we trained mice to behaviorally discriminate target vs. non-target pure-tones while we used in vivo 2-photon imaging to record neuronal population activity in primary auditory cortex layer 2/3. We found that during task performance, a specialized subset of neurons transiently encoded intersection information, i.e., sensory information that was used to inform behavioral choice. Granger causality analysis showed that these neurons formed functional networks in which task-relevant information was transmitted sequentially between neurons. Differences in network structure between target and non-target sounds encoded behavioral choice. Correct behavioral choices were associated with shorter timescale communication between neurons. In summary, we find that specialized neuronal populations in auditory cortex form functional networks during auditory task performance whose structures depend on both sensory input and behavioral choice.