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  • Cardiology Essentials

    27 October 2017

    This handbook will provide the basics of how to care for the most common cardiac conditions encountered in clinical practice.

  • A transcriptomic atlas of mouse neocortical layers.

    19 March 2018

    In the mammalian cortex, neurons and glia form a patterned structure across six layers whose complex cytoarchitectonic arrangement is likely to contribute to cognition. We sequenced transcriptomes from layers 1-6b of different areas (primary and secondary) of the adult (postnatal day 56) mouse somatosensory cortex to understand the transcriptional levels and functional repertoires of coding and noncoding loci for cells constituting these layers. A total of 5,835 protein-coding genes and 66 noncoding RNA loci are differentially expressed ("patterned") across the layers, on the basis of a machine-learning model (naive Bayes) approach. Layers 2-6b are each associated with specific functional and disease annotations that provide insights into their biological roles. This new resource ( greatly extends currently available resources, such as the Allen Mouse Brain Atlas and microarray data sets, by providing quantitative expression levels, by being genome-wide, by including novel loci, and by identifying candidate alternatively spliced transcripts that are differentially expressed across layers.

  • The projection from auditory cortex to cochlear nucleus in guinea pigs: an in vivo anatomical and in vitro electrophysiological study.

    12 December 2017

    Previous anatomical experiments have demonstrated the existence of a direct, bilateral projection from the auditory cortex (AC) to the cochlear nucleus (CN). However, the precise relationship between the origin of the projection in the AC and the distribution of axon terminals in the CN is not known. Moreover, the influence of this projection on CN principal cells has not been studied before. The aim of the present study was two-fold. First, to extend the anatomical data by tracing anterogradely the distribution of cortical axons in the CN by means of restricted injections of biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) in physiologically characterized sites in the AC. Second, in an in vitro isolated whole brain preparation (IWB), to assess the effect of electrical stimulation of the AC on CN principal cells from which intracellular recordings were derived. BDA injections in the tonotopically organized primary auditory cortex and dorsocaudal auditory field at high and low best frequency (BF) sites resulted in a consistent axonal labeling in the ipsilateral CN of all injected animals. In addition, fewer labeled terminals were observed in the contralateral CN, but only in the animals subjected to injections in low BF region. The axon terminal fields consisting of boutons en passant or terminaux were found in the superficial granule cell layer and, to a smaller extent, in the three CN subdivisions. No axonal labeling was seen in the CN as result of BDA injection in the secondary auditory area (dorsocaudal belt). In the IWB, the effects of ipsilateral AC stimulation were tested in a population of 52 intracellulary recorded and stained CN principal neurons, distributed in the three CN subdivisions. Stimulation of the AC evoked slow late excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) in only two cells located in the dorsal CN. The EPSPs were induced in a giant and a pyramidal cell at latencies of 20 ms and 33 ms, respectively, suggesting involvement of polysynaptic circuits. These findings are consistent with anatomical data showing sparse projections from the AC to the CN and indicate a limited modulatory action of the AC on CN principal cells.

  • Muscarinic agonist carbachol depresses excitatory synaptic transmission in the rat basolateral amygdala in vitro.

    28 January 2018

    Intracellular recordings in slice preparations of the basolateral amygdala were used to test which excitatory amino acid receptors mediate the excitatory postsynaptic potentials due to stimulation of the external capsule. These recordings were also used to examine the action of muscarinic agonists on the evoked excitatory potentials. Intracellular recordings from amygdaloid pyramidal neurons revealed that carbachol (2-20 microM) suppressed, in a dose-dependent manner, excitatory postsynaptic responses evoked by stimulation of the external capsule (EC). This effect was blocked by atropine. The estimated effective concentration to produce half-maximal response (EC(50)) was 6.2 microM. Synaptic suppression was observed with no changes in the input resistance of the recorded cells, suggesting a presynaptic mechanism. In addition, the results obtained using the paired-pulse protocol provided additional support for a presynaptic action of carbachol. To identify which subtype of cholinergic receptors were involved in the suppression of the EPSP, four partially selective muscarinic receptor antagonists were used at different concentrations: pirenzepine, a compound with a similar high affinity for muscarinic M1 and M4 receptors; gallamine, a noncompetitive antagonist for M2; methoctramine, an antagonist for M2 and M4; and 4-diphenylacetoxy-N-methylpiperidine, a compound with similar high affinity for muscarinic receptors M1 and M3. None of them independently antagonized the suppressive effect of carbachol on the evoked EPSP completely, suggesting that more than one muscarinic receptor subtype is involved in the effect. These experiments provide evidence that in the amygdala muscarinic agonists block the excitatory synaptic response, mediated by glutamic acid, by acting on several types of presynaptic receptors.

  • Physiological and anatomical evidence for multisensory interactions in auditory cortex.

    19 March 2018

    Recent studies, conducted almost exclusively in primates, have shown that several cortical areas usually associated with modality-specific sensory processing are subject to influences from other senses. Here we demonstrate using single-unit recordings and estimates of mutual information that visual stimuli can influence the activity of units in the auditory cortex of anesthetized ferrets. In many cases, these units were also acoustically responsive and frequently transmitted more information in their spike discharge patterns in response to paired visual-auditory stimulation than when either modality was presented by itself. For each stimulus, this information was conveyed by a combination of spike count and spike timing. Even in primary auditory areas (primary auditory cortex [A1] and anterior auditory field [AAF]), approximately 15% of recorded units were found to have nonauditory input. This proportion increased in the higher level fields that lie ventral to A1/AAF and was highest in the anterior ventral field, where nearly 50% of the units were found to be responsive to visual stimuli only and a further quarter to both visual and auditory stimuli. Within each field, the pure-tone response properties of neurons sensitive to visual stimuli did not differ in any systematic way from those of visually unresponsive neurons. Neural tracer injections revealed direct inputs from visual cortex into auditory cortex, indicating a potential source of origin for the visual responses. Primary visual cortex projects sparsely to A1, whereas higher visual areas innervate auditory areas in a field-specific manner. These data indicate that multisensory convergence and integration are features common to all auditory cortical areas but are especially prevalent in higher areas.

  • Physiological and behavioral studies of spatial coding in the auditory cortex.

    6 March 2018

    Despite extensive subcortical processing, the auditory cortex is believed to be essential for normal sound localization. However, we still have a poor understanding of how auditory spatial information is encoded in the cortex and of the relative contribution of different cortical areas to spatial hearing. We investigated the behavioral consequences of inactivating ferret primary auditory cortex (A1) on auditory localization by implanting a sustained release polymer containing the GABA(A) agonist muscimol bilaterally over A1. Silencing A1 led to a reversible deficit in the localization of brief noise bursts in both the horizontal and vertical planes. In other ferrets, large bilateral lesions of the auditory cortex, which extended beyond A1, produced more severe and persistent localization deficits. To investigate the processing of spatial information by high-frequency A1 neurons, we measured their binaural-level functions and used individualized virtual acoustic space stimuli to record their spatial receptive fields (SRFs) in anesthetized ferrets. We observed the existence of a continuum of response properties, with most neurons preferring contralateral sound locations. In many cases, the SRFs could be explained by a simple linear interaction between the acoustical properties of the head and external ears and the binaural frequency tuning of the neurons. Azimuth response profiles recorded in awake ferrets were very similar and further analysis suggested that the slopes of these functions and location-dependent variations in spike timing are the main information-bearing parameters. Studies of sensory plasticity can also provide valuable insights into the role of different brain areas and the way in which information is represented within them. For example, stimulus-specific training allows accurate auditory localization by adult ferrets to be relearned after manipulating binaural cues by occluding one ear. Reversible inactivation of A1 resulted in slower and less complete adaptation than in normal controls, whereas selective lesions of the descending cortico collicular pathway prevented any improvement in performance. These results reveal a role for auditory cortex in training-induced plasticity of auditory localization, which could be mediated by descending cortical pathways.

  • The ferret auditory cortex: descending projections to the inferior colliculus.

    21 February 2018

    Descending corticofugal projections are thought to play a critical role in shaping the responses of subcortical neurons. Here, we examine the origins and targets of ferret auditory corticocollicular projections. We show that the ectosylvian gyrus (EG), where the auditory cortex is located, can be subdivided into middle, anterior, and posterior regions according to the pattern of cytochrome oxidase staining and immunoreactivity for the neurofilament antibody SMI32. Injection of retrograde tracers in the inferior colliculus (IC) labeled large layer V pyramidal cells throughout the EG and adjacent sulci. Each region of the EG has a different pattern of descending projections. Neurons in the primary auditory fields in the middle EG project to the lateral nucleus (LN) of the ipsilateral IC and bilaterally to the dorsal cortex and dorsal part of the central nucleus (CN). The projection to these dorsomedial regions of the IC is predominantly ipsilateral and topographically organized. The secondary cortical fields in the posterior EG target the same midbrain areas but exclude the CN of the IC. A smaller projection to the ipsilateral LN also arises from the anterior EG, which is the only region of auditory cortex to target tegmental areas surrounding the IC, including the superior colliculus, periaqueductal gray, intercollicular tegmentum, and cuneiform nucleus. This pattern of corticocollicular connectivity is consistent with regional differences in physiological properties and provides another basis for subdividing ferret auditory cortex into functionally distinct areas.