Image_2_Whole-brain mapping of long-range inputs to the VIP-expressing inhibitory neurons in the primary motor cortex.TIF
The primary motor cortex (MOp) is an important site for motor skill learning. Interestingly, neurons in MOp possess reward-related activity, presumably to facilitate reward-based motor learning. While pyramidal neurons (PNs) and different subtypes of GABAergic inhibitory interneurons (INs) in MOp all undergo cell-type specific plastic changes during motor learning, the vasoactive intestinal peptide-expressing inhibitory interneurons (VIP-INs) in MOp have been shown to preferentially respond to reward and play a critical role in the early phases of motor learning by triggering local circuit plasticity. To understand how VIP-INs might integrate various streams of information, such as sensory, pre-motor, and reward-related inputs, to regulate local plasticity in MOp, we performed monosynaptic rabies tracing experiments and employed an automated cell counting pipeline to generate a comprehensive map of brain-wide inputs to VIP-INs in MOp. We then compared this input profile to the brain-wide inputs to somatostatin-expressing inhibitory interneurons (SST-INs) and parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory interneurons (PV-INs) in MOp. We found that while all cell types received major inputs from sensory, motor, and prefrontal cortical regions, as well as from various thalamic nuclei, VIP-INs received more inputs from the orbital frontal cortex (ORB) – a region associated with reinforcement learning and value predictions. Our findings provide insight on how the brain leverages microcircuit motifs by both integrating and partitioning different streams of long-range input to modulate local circuit activity and plasticity.