Monitoring neuronal activity in freely behaving animals is challenging but necessary if we are to understand the neuronal circuits involved in complex behaviors. In their recent Neuron paper, Lucas Pinto, Neuroscience Ph.D. Program alumnus, and Yang Dan, professor of of Neurobiology in the Cell and Molecular Biology Department, did exactly that. Pinto and Dan expressed an indicator of neuronal activity, GCaMP6f, in different types of excitatory and inhibitory neurons in mice and monitored neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex during a goal-directed sensory discrimination task. They found that specific types of inhibitory neurons are active during specific sensory cues, motor tasks, and reward or punishment. Excitatory pyramidal neurons varied in their responses partly depending on what layer of the cortex they resided in.
Read the research article, “Cell-Type-Specific Activity in Prefrontal Cortex during Goal-Directed Behavior,” by Lucas Pinto and Yang Dan, in Neuron.
GIF courtesy of Lucas Pinto and Yang Dan. Included in Movie S1, Neuron 87, 437–450, July 15, 2015.