Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2022 Feb 14;377(1844):20200525. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0525. Epub 2021 Dec 27.
We propose a new conceptual framework (computational validity) for translation across species and populations based on the computational similarity between the information processing underlying parallel tasks. Translating between species depends not on the superficial similarity of the tasks presented, but rather on the computational similarity of the strategies and mechanisms that underlie those behaviours. Computational validity goes beyond construct validity by directly addressing questions of information processing. Computational validity interacts with circuit validity as computation depends on circuits, but similar computations could be accomplished by different circuits. Because different individuals may use different computations to accomplish a given task, computational validity suggests that behaviour should be understood through the subject's point of view; thus, behaviour should be characterized on an individual level rather than a task level. Tasks can constrain the computational algorithms available to a subject and the observed subtleties of that behaviour can provide information about the computations used by each individual. Computational validity has especially high relevance for the study of psychiatric disorders, given the new views of psychiatry as identifying and mediating information processing dysfunctions that may show high inter-individual variability, as well as for animal models investigating aspects of human psychiatric disorders. This article is part of the theme issue 'Systems neuroscience through the lens of evolutionary theory'.
Front Neural Circuits. 2021 Nov 9;15:752420. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2021.752420. eCollection 2021.
Addiction is a complex disease that impacts millions of people around the world. Clinically, addiction is formalized as substance use disorder (SUD), with three primary symptom categories: exaggerated substance use, social or lifestyle impairment, and risky substance use. Considerable efforts have been made to model features of these criteria in non-human animal research subjects, for insight into the underlying neurobiological mechanisms. Here we review evidence from rodent models of SUD-inspired criteria, focusing on the role of the striatal dopamine system. We identify distinct mesostriatal and nigrostriatal dopamine circuit functions in behavioral outcomes that are relevant to addictions and SUDs. This work suggests that striatal dopamine is essential for not only positive symptom features of SUDs, such as elevated intake and craving, but also for impairments in decision making that underlie compulsive behavior, reduced sociality, and risk taking. Understanding the functional heterogeneity of the dopamine system and related networks can offer insight into this complex symptomatology and may lead to more targeted treatments.
J Exp Biol. 2021 Nov 19:jeb.243405. doi: 10.1242/jeb.243405. Online ahead of print.
Sexual traits that promote species recognition are important drivers of reproductive isolation, especially among closely related species. Identifying neural processes that shape species differences in recognition is crucial for understanding the causal mechanisms of reproductive isolation. Temporal patterns are salient features of sexual signals widely used in species recognition by several taxa, including anurans. Recent advances in our understanding of temporal processing by the anuran auditory system provide an opportunity to investigate the neural basis of species-specific recognition. The anuran inferior colliculus (IC) consists of neurons that are selective for temporal features of calls. Of potential relevance are auditory neurons known as interval-counting neurons (ICNs) that are often selective for the pulse rate of conspecific advertisement calls. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ICNs mediate acoustic species recognition by exploiting the known differences in temporal selectivity in two cryptic species of gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor). We examined the extent to which the threshold number of pulses required to elicit behavioral responses from females and neural responses from ICNs was similar within each species but potentially different between the two species. In support of our hypothesis, we found that a species difference in behavioral pulse number thresholds closely matched the species difference in neural pulse number thresholds. However, this relationship held only for ICNs that exhibited band-pass tuning for conspecific pulse rates. Together, these findings suggest that differences in temporal processing of a subset of ICNs provide a mechanistic explanation for reproductive isolation between two cryptic treefrog species.
Identity signaling, identity reception and the evolution of social recognition in a Neotropical frog
Evolution. 2021 Nov 14. doi: 10.1111/evo.14400. Online ahead of print.
Animals recognize familiar individuals to perform a variety of important social behaviors. Social recognition is often mediated by communication between signalers who produce signals that contain identity information and receivers who categorize these signals based on previous experience. We tested two hypotheses about adaptations in signalers and receivers that enable the evolution of social recognition using two species of closely related territorial poison frogs. Male golden rocket frogs (Anomaloglossus beebei) recognize the advertisement calls of conspecific territory neighbors and display a "dear enemy effect" by responding less aggressively to neighbors than strangers, while male Kai rocket frogs (A. kaiei) do not. Our results did not support the identity signaling hypothesis: both species produced advertisement calls that contain similar amounts of identity information. Our results did support the identity reception hypothesis: both species exhibited habituation of aggression to playbacks simulating the arrival of a new neighbor, but only golden rocket frogs showed renewed aggression when they subsequently heard calls from a different male. These results suggest that an ancestral mechanism of plasticity in aggression common among frogs has been modified through natural selection to be specific to calls of individual males in golden rocket frogs, enabling a social recognition system. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Cereb Cortex. 2021 Oct 23:bhab373. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab373. Online ahead of print.
Motor behavior results in complex exchanges of motor and sensory information across cortical regions. Therefore, fully understanding the cerebral cortex's role in motor behavior requires a mesoscopic-level description of the cortical regions engaged, their functional interactions, and how these functional interactions change with behavioral state. Mesoscopic Ca2+ imaging through transparent polymer skulls in mice reveals elevated activation of the dorsal cerebral cortex during locomotion. Using the correlations between the time series of Ca2+ fluorescence from 28 regions (nodes) obtained using spatial independent component analysis (sICA), we examined the changes in functional connectivity of the cortex from rest to locomotion with a goal of understanding the changes to the cortical functional state that facilitate locomotion. Both the transitions from rest to locomotion and from locomotion to rest show marked increases in correlation among most nodes. However, once a steady state of continued locomotion is reached, many nodes, including primary motor and somatosensory nodes, show decreases in correlations, while retrosplenial and the most anterior nodes of the secondary motor cortex show increases. These results highlight the changes in functional connectivity in the cerebral cortex, representing a series of changes in the cortical state from rest to locomotion and on return to rest.
Sex Differences in the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor System of Rodents: Impacts on Nicotine and Alcohol Reward Behaviors
Front Neurosci. 2021 Sep 21;15:745783. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.745783. eCollection 2021.
Alcohol and nicotine are the two most widely used and misused drugs around the world, and co-consumption of both substances is highly prevalent. Multiple lines of evidence show a profound effect of sex in many aspects of alcohol and nicotine reward, with women having more difficulty quitting smoking and showing a faster progression toward developing alcohol use disorder compared with men. Both alcohol and nicotine require neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) to elicit rewarding effects within the mesolimbic system, representing a shared molecular pathway that likely contributes to the frequent comorbidity of alcohol and nicotine dependence. However, the majority of preclinical studies on the mechanisms of alcohol and nicotine reward behaviors utilize only male rodents, and thus our understanding of alcohol and nicotine neuropharmacology relies heavily on male data. As preclinical research informs the development and refinement of therapies to help patients reduce drug consumption, it is critical to understand the way biological sex and sex hormones influence the rewarding properties of alcohol and nicotine. In this review, we summarize what is known about sex differences in rodent models of alcohol and nicotine reward behaviors with a focus on neuronal nAChRs, highlighting exciting areas for future research. Additionally, we discuss the way circulating sex hormones may interact with neuronal nAChRs to influence reward-related behavior.