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Functional profiles of visual-, auditory-, and water flow-responsive neurons in the Zebrafish Tectum

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  • Andrew W. Thompson, University of Queensland
  • ,
  • Gilles C. Vanwalleghem
  • Lucy A. Heap, University of Queensland
  • ,
  • Ethan K. Scott, University of Queensland

The tectum has long been known as a hub of visual processing, and recent studies have elucidated many of the circuit-level mechanisms by which tectal neurons filter visual information. Here, we use population-scale imaging of tectal neurons expressing a genetically encoded calcium indicator to characterize tectal responses to non-visual stimuli in zebrafish. We identify ensembles of neurons responsive to stimuli for each of three sensory modalities: vision, audition, and water flow sensation. These ensembles display consistently represented response profiles to our stimuli, and each has a preferred stimulus and salient feature to which it is most responsive. Each sensory modality drives a unique spatial profile of activity in the tectal neuropil, suggesting that the neuropil's laminar structure functionally subserves multiple modalities. The positions of the responsive neurons in the periventricular layer are also distinct across modalities, and very few neurons are responsive to multiple modalities. The cells contributing to each ensemble are highly variable from trial to trial, but ensembles contain "cores" of reliably responsive cells, suggesting a mechanism whereby they could maintain consistency in reporting salient stimulus features while retaining flexibility to report on similar stimuli. Finally, we find that co-presentation of auditory or water flow stimuli suppress visual responses in the tectum.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume26
Issue6
Pages (from-to)743-754
Number of pages12
ISSN0960-9822
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Loren Looger for sharing the GCaMP5G construct before publication and Brian Key for providing the zebrafish elavl3 promoter. We thank Rebecca Dunning for help with creating transgenic animals. We thank Daryl Preece and Itia Favre-Bulle for help with the SPIM design and construction. We thank Michael Orger, Geoffrey J. Goodhill, and members of our laboratory for comments on the manuscript. Support was provided by Australian Postgraduate Awards to A.W.T. and L.A.H.; an NHMRC Project Grant (APP1066887), an ARC Future Fellowship (FT110100887), and ARC Discovery Project Grants (DP140102036 and DP110103612) to E.K.S.; and an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship (ALTF 727-2014) to G.C.V.

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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

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