Researchers Uncover Movement Signals in Auditory Cortex of Mice

Researchers at the Champalimaud Foundation discovered sound, action signals in the auditory cortex of mice, shedding light on how the brain translates perceptions into actions. The study revealed distinct spatial and temporal patterns for sensory and choice-related signals in the auditory cortex.

author-image
Trim Correspondents
New Update
Researchers Uncover Movement Signals in Auditory Cortex of Mice

Researchers Uncover Movement Signals in Auditory Cortex of Mice

In a groundbreaking study published inCurrent Biology, researchers at the Champalimaud Foundation have discoveredconvert, sounds, actionsin the auditory cortex of mice. The findings shed new light on how the brain translates perceptions into actions and could have significant implications for our understanding of decision-making processes.

Why this matters: This discovery has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the neural basis of decision-making, allowing for the development of new treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, it could lead to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling machines to betterunderstanding, brain, processes, action.

The research team, led by postdoctoral researcher Raphael Steinfeld and principal investigator Alfonso Renart, designed an experiment in which mice were trained to distinguish between high and low sounds. The mice had to report their decision by licking one of two spouts, with a critical half-second delay introduced between the sound and the response. This delay allowed the researchers to separate related to the sound from that related to the choice.

The study revealed that sensory and choice-related signals displayed distinct spatial and temporal patterns in the auditory cortex. Signals related to sound detection appeared quickly but faded fast, vanishing around 400 milliseconds after the sound was presented. These signals were distributed broadly across all cortical layers. In contrast, choice-related signals emerged later, before the decision was executed, and were concentrated in the cortex's deeper layers.

Intriguingly, the researchers found that neurons that responded to a specific sound frequency also tended to be more active for the actions associated with those sounds. "For instance, a neuron that reacts to high frequencies might activate more for a rightward lick in one mouse and a leftward lick in another, depending on how each was trained, since we switched the sound-action contingency," explained Steinfeld. Understanding, brain, processes, action "This variability across different animals shows that the activity isn't hardwired but adapts through experience."

The findings suggest that the origin of choice signals in the auditory cortex is not directly related to the sensory signals. Instead, these signals are likely computed elsewhere in higher brain regions involved in planning or executing movements. The movement signals in the auditory cortex may serve mainly to refine or adjust the brain's decision-making process rather than directly causing actions.

The discovery of movement-related signals in the auditory cortex takes researchers a step closer to unraveling the mystery of how the brain translates perceptions into actions. The study provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between sensory information and behavioral choices within the cortex. As Renart noted,"The early sensory signals in the auditory cortex don't seem to predict the mice's eventual choice, and the choice signals emerge significantly later. "These findings open up new avenues for further research into the neural basis of decision-making and how different brain regions interact to guide behavior.