Camon J - Hugues S - Erlandson MA - Robbe D - Lagoun S - Marouane E - Bureau I
Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Whisker-guided decision making in mice is thought to critically depend on information processing occurring in the primary somatosensory cortex. However, it is not clear if neuronal activity in this "early" sensory region contains information about the timing and speed of motor response. To address this question we designed a new task in which freely moving mice learned to associate a whisker stimulus to reward delivery. The task was tailored in such a way that a wide range of delays between whisker stimulation and reward collection were observed due to differences of motivation and perception. After training, mice were anesthetized and neuronal responses evoked by stimulating trained and untrained whiskers were recorded across several cortical columns of barrel cortex. We found a strong correlation between the delay of the mouse behavioral response and the timing of multiunit activity evoked by the trained whisker, outside its principal cortical column, in layers 4 and 5A but not in layer 2/3. Circuit mapping ex vivo revealed this effect was associated with a weakening of layer 4 to layer 2/3 projection. We conclude that the processes controlling the propagation of key sensory inputs to naive cortical columns and the timing of sensory-guided action are linked.