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A distributed circuit for associating environmental context with motor choice in retrosplenial cortex.

  • Author(s): Franco, Luis M
  • Goard, Michael J
  • et al.
Abstract

During navigation, animals often use recognition of familiar environmental contexts to guide motor action selection. The retrosplenial cortex (RSC) receives inputs from both visual cortex and subcortical regions required for spatial memory and projects to motor planning regions. However, it is not known whether RSC is important for associating familiar environmental contexts with specific motor actions. We test this possibility by developing a task in which motor trajectories are chosen based on the context. We find that mice exhibit differential predecision activity in RSC and that optogenetic suppression of RSC activity impairs task performance. Individual RSC neurons encode a range of task variables, often multiplexed with distinct temporal profiles. However, the responses are spatiotemporally organized, with task variables represented along a posterior-to-anterior gradient along RSC during the behavioral performance, consistent with histological characterization. These results reveal an anatomically organized retrosplenial cortical circuit for associating environmental contexts with appropriate motor outputs.

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