German Sumbre

31 janvier 2020

ENS, IBENS, Paris

Principles of functional circuit connectivity : Insights from the zebrafish optic tectum

invité par Frédéric Chavane


Abstract : Spontaneous neuronal activity is spatiotemporally structured, influencing brain computations. Nevertheless, the neuronal interactions underlying these spontaneous activity patterns, and their biological relevance, remain elusive. We addressed these questions using two-photon Ca2+ imaging of intact zebrafish larvae to monitor the spontaneous activity fine-structure in the tectum. The spontaneous activity was organized in topographically compact assemblies, grouping functionally similar neurons rather than merely neighboring ones, reflecting the tectal retinotopic map despite being independent of retinal drive. Assemblies represent all-or-none-like sub-networks shaped by competitive dynamics, mechanisms advantageous for visual detection in noisy natural environments. Notably, assemblies were tuned to the same angular sizes and spatial positions as prey-detection performance in behavioral assays, and their spontaneous activation predicted directional tail movements. Therefore, structured spontaneous activity represents “preferred” network states, tuned to behaviorally relevant features, emerging from the circuit’s intrinsic non-linear dynamics, adapted for its functional role. Furthermore, the spontaneous activity structure also emerged in “naive” tecta (tecta of enucleated larvae before the retina connected to the tectum). We thus suggest that the formation of the tectal network circuitry is genetically prone for its functional role. This capability is an advantageous developmental strategy for the prompt execution of vital behaviors, such as escaping predators or catching prey, without requiring prior visual experience. Mutant zebrafish larvae for the mecp2 gene display an abnormal spontaneous tectal activity, thus representing an ideal control to shed light on the biological relevance of the tectal functional connectivity.

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