Matching Items (2)

128590-Thumbnail Image.png

Improved discriminability of spatiotemporal neural patterns in rat motor cortical areas as directional choice learning progresses

Description

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives to improve their odds of success in food foraging and other activities critical for survival. Through trial-and-error, they learn correct associations

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives to improve their odds of success in food foraging and other activities critical for survival. Through trial-and-error, they learn correct associations between their choices and external stimuli. While a neural network that underlies such learning process has been identified at a high level, it is still unclear how individual neurons and a neural ensemble adapt as learning progresses. In this study, we monitored the activity of single units in the rat medial and lateral agranular (AGm and AGl, respectively) areas as rats learned to make a left or right side lever press in response to a left or right side light cue. We noticed that rat movement parameters during the performance of the directional choice task quickly became stereotyped during the first 2–3 days or sessions. But learning the directional choice problem took weeks to occur. Accompanying rats' behavioral performance adaptation, we observed neural modulation by directional choice in recorded single units. Our analysis shows that ensemble mean firing rates in the cue-on period did not change significantly as learning progressed, and the ensemble mean rate difference between left and right side choices did not show a clear trend of change either. However, the spatiotemporal firing patterns of the neural ensemble exhibited improved discriminability between the two directional choices through learning. These results suggest a spatiotemporal neural coding scheme in a motor cortical neural ensemble that may be responsible for and contributing to learning the directional choice task.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-03-06

152691-Thumbnail Image.png

Exploration of neural coding in rat's agranular medial and agranular lateral cortices during learning of a directional choice task

Description

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives according to the circumstance. Through trial-and-error, animals improve their odds by making correct association between their behavioral choices and external stimuli.

Animals learn to choose a proper action among alternatives according to the circumstance. Through trial-and-error, animals improve their odds by making correct association between their behavioral choices and external stimuli. While there has been an extensive literature on the theory of learning, it is still unclear how individual neurons and a neural network adapt as learning progresses. In this dissertation, single units in the medial and lateral agranular (AGm and AGl) cortices were recorded as rats learned a directional choice task. The task required the rat to make a left/right side lever press if a light cue appeared on the left/right side of the interface panel. Behavior analysis showed that rat's movement parameters during performance of directional choices became stereotyped very quickly (2-3 days) while learning to solve the directional choice problem took weeks to occur. The entire learning process was further broken down to 3 stages, each having similar number of recording sessions (days). Single unit based firing rate analysis revealed that 1) directional rate modulation was observed in both cortices; 2) the averaged mean rate between left and right trials in the neural ensemble each day did not change significantly among the three learning stages; 3) the rate difference between left and right trials of the ensemble did not change significantly either. Besides, for either left or right trials, the trial-to-trial firing variability of single neurons did not change significantly over the three stages. To explore the spatiotemporal neural pattern of the recorded ensemble, support vector machines (SVMs) were constructed each day to decode the direction of choice in single trials. Improved classification accuracy indicated enhanced discriminability between neural patterns of left and right choices as learning progressed. When using a restricted Boltzmann machine (RBM) model to extract features from neural activity patterns, results further supported the idea that neural firing patterns adapted during the three learning stages to facilitate the neural codes of directional choices. Put together, these findings suggest a spatiotemporal neural coding scheme in a rat AGl and AGm neural ensemble that may be responsible for and contributing to learning the directional choice task.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014