Presubicular Bursting and Visual Anchoring of the Head Direction Signal

Knowing where we are, where we have come from and where we are going is crucial to behaviour. Our sense of orientation derives from combining multiple types of sensory information with our memory of known places, and it is closely linked to networks that subserve episodic memory storage throughout life (Buzsáki and Moser 2013). How these networks encode spatial orientation depends strongly on vision, but the cellular and circuit basis for this visual anchoring of our sense of orientation remains unknown.

We will focus on the presubiculum, which functions as an internal compass. Cells in the presubiculum code for head direction. This signal originates from the lateral mammillary nucleus (hypothalamus), where vestibular signals are transformed into head-direction signals and are transferred to presubiculum via the anterodorsal thalamic nucleus. This directional signal is anchored to external visual landmark allowing a coherent activity of the network. Presubicular lesions disrupt the control of head-direction signals by visual landmarks. Neurons in the different presubicular layers have distinct targets and we are particularly interested in the direct feedback to the lateral mammillary nucleus, that seems to rely on intrinsic bursting neurons of layer 4 (Yoder et al. 2015; Huang et al. 2017). Our project evolves around the idea that a burst feedback signal has a key role for visual updating of the head direction signal.
In this bilateral collaboration between our two laboratories in Paris and Berlin, we aim to elucidate how cells and circuits interact dynamically to produce a visual anchoring for our sense of orientation. This project combines in vivo single-cell physiology during behaviour with analysis of cellular properties and microcircuit synaptic connectivity in vitro.

We pose the following questions:
1) Does the presubicular feedback to the upstream regions of the head-direction system indeed occur via layer 4 bursting cells in vivo?
2) What are the cellular and microcircuit mechanisms leading to layer 4 neuron recruitment and burst firing?
3) What is the signal carried by layer 4 cells and does it reflect the combinations of vestibular and visual sensory inputs?
4) Is presubicular layer 4 bursting required for providing the visual landmark control of the head-direction signal?
5) How do the synaptic short-term dynamics of feedback synapses contribute to the relay of feedback signals?
The project is timely because of the recent demonstration of an internally organized network of the head-direction sense (Peyrache et al. 2015). What distinguishes our approach from previous studies is that we will combine high-end in vivo recordings with synaptic physiology and optogenetics to elucidate cellular integration of visual and vestibular signals. The tight collaboration of two labs with complementary expertise will enable such bridging between synaptic, cellular and systems neuroscience.

Principal investigators
Brecht, Michael Prof. Dr. (Details) (Animal Physiology/Systems Neurobiology and Neural Computation)

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of project
Start date: 04/2019
End date: 03/2022

Research Areas
Cognitive Neuroscience, Neurosciences, Systemic Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Behaviour

Research Areas

Last updated on 2022-07-09 at 19:08