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Distributed correlates of visually-guided behavior across the mouse brain

By Nicholas A. Steinmetz, Peter Zatka-Haas, Matteo Carandini, Kenneth D. Harris

Posted 20 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/474437 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1787-x)

Behavior arises from neuronal activity, but it is not known how the active neurons are distributed across brain regions and how their activity unfolds in time. Here, we used high-density Neuropixels probes to record from ~30,000 neurons in mice performing a visual contrast discrimination task. The task activated 60% of the neurons, involving nearly all 42 recorded brain regions, well beyond the regions activated by passive visual stimulation. However, neurons selective for choice (left vs. right) were rare, and found mostly in midbrain, striatum, and frontal cortex. Those in midbrain were typically activated prior to contralateral choices and suppressed prior to ipsilateral choices, consistent with a competitive midbrain circuit for adjudicating the subject's choice. A brain-wide state shift distinguished trials in which visual stimuli led to movement. These results reveal concurrent representations of movement and choice in neurons widely distributed across the brain.

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