Data for paper "Sequence learning induces selectivity to multiple task parameters in mouse somatosensory cortex"
Sequential temporal ordering and patterning are key features of natural signals, used by the brain to decode stimuli and perceive them as sensory objects. To explore how cortical neuronal activity underpins sequence discrimination, we developed a task in which mice distinguished between tactile ‘word’ sequences constructed from distinct vibrations delivered to the whiskers, assembled in different orders. Animals licked to report the presence of the target sequence. Mice could respond to the earliest possible cues allowing discrimination, effectively solving the task as a ‘detection of change’ problem, but enhanced their performance when responding later. Optogenetic inactivation showed that the somatosensory cortex was necessary for sequence discrimination. Two-photon imaging in layer 2/3 of the primary somatosensory ‘barrel’ cortex (S1bf) revealed that, in well-trained animals, neurons had heterogeneous selectivity to multiple task variables including not just sensory input but also the animal’s action decision and the trial outcome (presence or absence of the predicted reward). Many neurons were activated preceding goal-directed licking, thus reflecting the animal’s learnt action in response to the target sequence; these neurons were found as soon as mice learned to associate the rewarded sequence with licking. In contrast, learning evoked smaller changes in sensory response tuning: neurons responding to stimulus features were found in naïve mice, and training did not generate neurons with enhanced temporal integration or categorical responses. Therefore, in S1bf sequence learning results in neurons whose activity reflects the learnt association between target sequence and licking, rather than a refined representation of sensory features.
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Sensory sequence representation and discrimination in cortical circuits
Medical Research CouncilFind out more...