B03

Neuronal ensembles encoding distinct modalities in the mouse somatosensory cortex

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How does the brain allow you to tell the difference between warmth and cold?

Cortical circuits which represent and encode distinct somatosensory modalities, such as heat, cold and pressure, and delineate them from each other are not well understood. Modality-specificity could come about via distinct hard-wired cortical circuits or via distinct spatiotemporal patterns of activity generated within common set of cortical neurons.

By performing multiphoton imaging of neuronal activity in the somatosensory cortex in vivo, we aim to identify cortical ensembles encoding distinct sensory modalities using genetically-encoded calcium indicators and to study underlying principles. We will also address how intensity-coding is generated. Importantly, we plan to study the nature of sensory-encoding ensembles across the distinct cortical layers, and we will study its relation to intracolumnar connectivity.
We further aim to address the role of cortical inhibition in generating and modulating these ensembles via background suppression. Do all interneurons sculpt the respective spatiotemporal activity patterns in the same way, or are distinct modalities related to distinct classes of interneurons which form the respective sensory codes?
These integrative approaches are expected to provide insights into neuronal ensembles mediating specific modalities of perceptions, which in turn guide specific behaviors. In a broader perspective, we use our model system to ask how functional specificity is generated in cortical circuits.
Publications
Simonetti M, Hagenston AM, Vardeh D, Freitag HE, Mauceri D, Lu J, Satagopam VP, Schneider R, Costigan M, Bading H*, Kuner R (2013) Nuclear calcium signaling in spinal neurons drives a genomic program required for persistent inflammatory pain. Neuron 77:43-45.

Luo C, Gangadharan V, Bali KK, Xie RG, Agarwal N, Kurejova M, Tappe-Theodor A, Tegeder I, Feil S, Lewin G, Polgar E, Todd AM, Schlossmann J, Hofmann F, Liu DL, Hu SJ, Feil R, Kuner T*, Kuner R (2012) Presynaptically localized cyclic GMP-dependent Protein Kinase 1 is a key determinant of spinal synaptic potentiation and pain hypersensitivity. PLoS Biol 10(3):e1001283.

Gangadharan V, Wang R, Ulzhöfer B, Luo C, Bardoni R, Bali KK, Agarwal N, Tegeder I, Hildebrandt U, Nagy GG, Todd AJ, Ghirri A, Häussler A, Sprengel R*, Seeburg PH, Macdermott AB, Lewin GR, Kuner R (2011) Peripheral calcium-permeable AMPA receptors regulate chronic inflammatory pain in mice. J Clin Invest 121(4):1608-23.

Luo C, Seeburg PH, Sprengel R*, Kuner R (2008) Activity-dependent potentiation of calcium signals in spinal sensory networks in inflammatory pain states. Pain 140: 358-367.

Hartmann B, Ahmadi S, Heppenstall P, Zeilhofer HU, Lewin G, Schott C, Seeburg PH, Sprengel R*, Kuner R (2004) The AMPA receptor subunits, GluR-A and GluR-B reciprocally modulate spinal synaptic plasticity and inflammatory pain. Neuron 44: 637-650.

*Principal investigators of other projects within the CRC