Last updated: 1.7.2018

Muscarinic M1 receptor overstimulation disrupts working memory activity for rules in primate prefrontal cortex. Vijayraghavan S, Major AJ, Everling S (2017) Neuron pii: S0896-6273(18)30425-2.

Ketamine alters lateral prefrontal oscillations in a rule-based working memory task.
Ma L, Skoblenick K, Johnston K, Everling S (2018) J. Neurosci. pii: 2659-17



In vivo manganese tract tracing of frontal eye fields in rhesus macaques with ultra-high field MRI: comparison with DWI tractography. 
Schaeffer DJ, Johnston KD, Gilbert KM, Gati JS, Menon RS, Everling S  (in press) Neuroimage


PI: Stefan EverlinG

Acute administration of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonists in healthy humans and animals produces working memory deficits similar to those observed in schizophrenia. However, it is unclear whether they also lead to altered low-frequency (<=60Hz) neural oscillatory activities similar to those associated with schizophrenia during working memory processes. Here we recorded local field potentials (LFPs) and single unit activity from the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) of three male rhesus macaque monkeys while they performed a rule-based prosaccade and antisaccade working memory task, both before and after systemic injections of a subanesthetic dose (<=0.7mg/kg) of ketamine. Accompanying working-memory impairment, ketamine enhanced the low gamma band (30-60Hz) and dampened the beta band (13-30Hz) oscillatory activities in the LPFC during both delay periods and inter-trial intervals. It also increased task-related alpha-band activities, likely reflecting compromised attention. Beta-band oscillations may be especially relevant to working memory processes, as stronger beta power weakly but significantly predicted shorter saccadic reaction time. Also in beta band, ketamine reduced the performance-related oscillation as well as the rule information encoded in the spectral power. Ketamine also reduced rule information in the spike-field phase consistency in almost all frequencies up to 60Hz. Our findings support NMDAR antagonists in non-human primates as a meaningful model for altered neural oscillations and synchrony, which reflect a disorganized network underlying the working memory deficits in schizophrenia.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTLow doses of ketamine-an NMDA receptor blocker-produce working memory deficits similar to those observed in schizophrenia. In the LPFC, a key brain region for working memory, we found that ketamine altered neural oscillatory activities in similar ways that differentiate schizophrenic patients and healthy subjects, during both task and non-task periods. Ketamine induced stronger gamma (30-60Hz) and weaker beta (13-30Hz) oscillations, reflecting local hyperactivity and reduced long-range communications. Furthermore, ketamine reduced performance-related oscillatory activities, as well as the rule information encoded in the oscillations and in the synchrony between single cell activities and oscillations. The ketamine model helps link the molecular and cellular basis of neural oscillatory changes to the working memory deficit in schizophrenia.

Acetylcholine release in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), acting through muscarinic receptors, has an essential role in regulating flexible behavior and working memory (WM). General muscarinic receptor blockade disrupts PFC WM representations, while selective stimulation of muscarinic receptor subtypes is of great interest for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease. Here, we tested selective stimulation and blockade of muscarinic M1 receptors (M1Rs) in macaque PFC, during performance of a cognitive control task in which rules maintained in WM specified saccadic responses. We hypothesized that M1R blockade and stimulation would disrupt and enhance rule representation in WM, respectively. Unexpectedly, M1R blockade did not consistently affect PFC neuronal rule selectivity. Moreover, M1R stimulation suppressed PFC activity, and at higher doses, degraded rule representations. Our results suggest that, in primates, the deleterious effects of general muscarinic blockade on PFC WM activity are not mediated by M1Rs, while their overstimulation deteriorates PFC rule maintenance.

Laboratory for Neural Circuits and Cognitive Control

Recent Papers from the lab

The saccadic eye movement system has emerged as a valuable model for studying neural circuitry related to flexible control of behavior. Although connections of the saccadic circuitry are well documented via histochemical tracers, these methods require fixed tissue and thus cannot provide longitudinal assessments of connectivity. To circumvent this, diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) is often used as a proxy for connectivity in vivo, allowing for
the tracing of connections longitudinally and noninvasively. DWI, however, has certain limitations in its ability to estimate the paths of fiber tracts. Here, we demonstrate the use of manganese, in an animal model, as an MRI-based in vivo labeling technique for saccadic circuitry that allows for direct tract tracing without the need to sacrifice the animal. Manganese is a strong paramagnetic contrast agent used for T1-relaxation enhancement in MRI. Here, we locally injected MnCl⁠2 into the frontal eye fields (FEF), a key saccadic node, of two male rhesus
macaques and collected ultra-high field MRI data at 7T (T1, DWI). The results demonstrate that MnCl⁠2-traced FEF connections parallel those established by histochemical tracing (albeit at a lower spatial resolution) and suggest that DWI underestimates FEF connectivity, likely due to crossing fibers and small tract size. These results highlight the lack of DWI sensitivity for tracing subcortical FEF fibers, but also suggest MnCl⁠2-based tracing as a powerful alternative for assessing these connections in vivo.