Image_1_Visual Cues Predictive of Behaviorally Neutral Outcomes Evoke Persistent but Not Interval Timing Activity in V1, Whereas Aversive Conditioning Suppresses This Activity.jpg
Cue-evoked persistent activity is neural activity that persists beyond stimulation of a sensory cue and has been described in many regions of the brain, including primary sensory areas. Nonetheless, the functional role that persistent activity plays in primary sensory areas is enigmatic. However, one form of persistent activity in a primary sensory area is the representation of time between a visual stimulus and a water reward. This “reward timing activity”—observed within the primary visual cortex—has been implicated in informing the timing of visually cued, reward-seeking actions. Although rewarding outcomes are sufficient to engender interval timing activity within V1, it is unclear to what extent cue-evoked persistent activity exists outside of reward conditioning, and whether temporal relationships to other outcomes (such as behaviorally neutral or aversive outcomes) are able to engender timing activity. Here we describe the existence of cue-evoked persistent activity in mouse V1 following three conditioning strategies: pseudo-conditioning (where unpaired, monocular visual stimuli are repeatedly presented to an animal), neutral conditioning (where monocular visual stimuli are paired with a binocular visual stimulus, at a delay), and aversive conditioning (where monocular visual stimuli are paired with a tail shock, at a delay). We find that these conditioning strategies exhibit persistent activity that takes one of three forms, a sustained increase of activity; a sustained decrease of activity; or a delayed, transient peak of activity, as previously observed following conditioning with delayed reward. However, these conditioning strategies do not result in visually cued interval timing activity, as observed following appetitive conditioning. Moreover, we find that neutral conditioning increases the magnitude of cue-evoked responses whereas aversive conditioning strongly diminished both the response magnitude and the prevalence of cue-evoked persistent activity. These results demonstrate that cue-evoked persistent activity within V1 can exist outside of conditioning visual stimuli with delayed outcomes and that this persistent activity can be uniquely modulated across different conditioning strategies using unconditioned stimuli of varying behavioral relevance. Together, these data extend our understanding of cue-evoked persistent activity within a primary sensory cortical network and its ability to be modulated by salient outcomes.