Frank W Ohl

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

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Publications (94)339.98 Total impact

  • Frank W Ohl
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    ABSTRACT: Rhythmic activity appears in the auditory cortex in both microscopic and macroscopic observables and is modulated by both bottom-up and top-down processes. How this activity serves both types of processes is largely unknown. Here we review studies that have recently improved our understanding of potential functional roles of large-scale global dynamic activity patterns in auditory cortex. The experimental paradigm of auditory category learning allowed critical testing of the hypothesis that global auditory cortical activity states are associated with endogenous cognitive states mediating the meaning associated with an acoustic stimulus rather than with activity states that merely represent the stimulus for further processing.
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 01/2015; 31:88–94.
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    ABSTRACT: Temporal variability of neuronal response characteristics during sensory stimulation is a ubiquitous phenomenon that may reflect processes such as stimulus-driven adaptation, top-down modulation or spontaneous fluctuations. It poses a challenge to functional characterization methods such as the receptive field, since these often assume stationarity. We propose a novel method for estimation of sensory neurons' receptive fields that extends the classic static linear receptive field model to the time-varying case. Here, the long-term estimate of the static receptive field serves as the mean of a probabilistic prior distribution from which the short-term temporally localized receptive field may deviate stochastically with time-varying standard deviation. The derived corresponding generalized linear model permits robust characterization of temporal variability in receptive field structure also for highly non-Gaussian stimulus ensembles. We computed and analyzed short-term auditory spectro-temporal receptive field (STRF) estimates with characteristic temporal resolution 5 s to 30 s based on model simulations and responses from in total 60 single-unit recordings in anesthetized Mongolian gerbil auditory midbrain and cortex. Stimulation was performed with short (100 ms) overlapping frequency-modulated tones. Results demonstrate identification of time-varying STRFs, with obtained predictive model likelihoods exceeding those from baseline static STRF estimation. Quantitative characterization of STRF variability reveals a higher degree thereof in auditory cortex compared to midbrain. Cluster analysis indicates that significant deviations from the long-term static STRF are brief, but reliably estimated. We hypothesize that the observed variability more likely reflects spontaneous or state-dependent internal fluctuations that interact with stimulus-induced processing, rather than experimental or stimulus design.
    Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 12/2014; 8(165). · 2.23 Impact Factor
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    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 10/2014; 8. · 4.16 Impact Factor
  • Frank W Ohl
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Rhythmic activity appears in the auditory cortex in both microscopic and macroscopic observables and is modulated by both bottom-up and top-down processes. How this activity serves both types of processes is largely unknown. Here we review studies that have recently improved our understanding of potential functional roles of large-scale global dynamic activity patterns in auditory cortex. The experimental paradigm of auditory category learning allowed critical testing of the hypothesis that global auditory cortical activity states are associated with endogenous cognitive states mediating the meaning associated with an acoustic stimulus rather than with activity states that merely represent the stimulus for further processing.
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology 09/2014; 31C:88-94. · 6.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Electrical and optogenetic methods for brain stimulation are widely used in rodents for manipulating behavior and analyzing functional connectivities in neuronal circuits. High-resolution in vivo imaging of the global, brain-wide, activation patterns induced by these stimulations has remained challenging, in particular in awake behaving mice. We here mapped brain activation patterns in awake, intracranially self-stimulating mice using a novel protocol for single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Mice were implanted with either electrodes for electrical stimulation of the medial forebrain bundle (mfb-microstim) or with optical fibers for blue-light stimulation of channelrhodopsin-2 expressing neurons in the ventral tegmental area (vta-optostim). After training for self-stimulation by current or light application, respectively, mice were implanted with jugular vein catheters and intravenously injected with the flow tracer 99m-technetium hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime (99mTc-HMPAO) during seven to ten minutes of intracranial self-stimulation or ongoing behavior without stimulation. The 99mTc-brain distributions were mapped in anesthetized animals after stimulation using multipinhole SPECT. Upon self-stimulation rCBF strongly increased at the electrode tip in mfb-microstim mice. In vta-optostim mice peak activations were found outside the stimulation site. Partly overlapping brain-wide networks of activations and deactivations were found in both groups. When testing all self-stimulating mice against all controls highly significant activations were found in the rostromedial nucleus accumbens shell. SPECT-imaging of rCBF using intravenous tracer-injection during ongoing behavior is a new tool for imaging regional brain activation patterns in awake behaving rodents providing higher spatial and temporal resolutions than 18F-2-fluoro-2-dexoyglucose positron emission tomography.
    NeuroImage 09/2014; · 6.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It is commonly assumed that cortical activity in non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) is spatially homogeneous on the mesoscopic scale. This is partly due to the limited observational scope of common metabolic or imaging methods in sleep. We used the recently developed technique of thallium-autometallography (TlAMG) to visualize mesoscopic patterns of activity in the sleeping cortex with single-cell resolution. We intravenously injected rats with the lipophilic chelate complex thallium diethyldithiocarbamate (TlDDC) during spontaneously occurring periods of NREMS and mapped the patterns of neuronal uptake of the potassium (K(+)) probe thallium (Tl(+)). Using this method, we show that cortical activity patterns are not spatially homogeneous during discrete 5-min episodes of NREMS in unrestrained rats-rather, they are complex and spatially diverse. Along with a relative predominance of infragranular layer activation, we find pronounced differences in metabolic activity of neighboring neuronal assemblies, an observation which lends support to the emerging paradigm that sleep is a distributed process with regulation on the local scale.
    Brain Structure and Function 08/2014; · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Analysis of sensory neurons' processing characteristics requires simultaneous measurement of presented stimuli and concurrent spike responses. The functional transformation from high-dimensional stimulus space to the binary space of spike and non-spike responses is commonly described with linear-nonlinear models, whose linear filter component describes the neuron's receptive field. From a machine learning perspective, this corresponds to the binary classification problem of discriminating spike-eliciting from non-spike-eliciting stimulus examples. The classification-based receptive field (CbRF) estimation method proposed here adapts a linear large-margin classifier to optimally predict experimental stimulus-response data and subsequently interprets learned classifier weights as the neuron's receptive field filter. Computational learning theory provides a theoretical framework for learning from data and guarantees optimality in the sense that the risk of erroneously assigning a spike-eliciting stimulus example to the non-spike class (and vice versa) is minimized. Efficacy of the CbRF method is validated with simulations and for auditory spectro-temporal receptive field (STRF) estimation from experimental recordings in the auditory midbrain of Mongolian gerbils. Acoustic stimulation is performed with frequency-modulated tone complexes that mimic properties of natural stimuli, specifically non-Gaussian amplitude distribution and higher-order correlations. Results demonstrate that the proposed approach successfully identifies correct underlying STRFs, even in cases where second-order methods based on the spike-triggered average (STA) do not. Applied to small data samples, the method is shown to converge on smaller amounts of experimental recordings and with lower estimation variance than the generalized linear model and recent information theoretic methods. Thus, CbRF estimation may prove useful for investigation of neuronal processes in response to natural stimuli and in settings where rapid adaptation is induced by experimental design.
    PLoS ONE 04/2014; 9(4):e93062. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Lars T. Boenke, David Alais, Frank W. Ohl
    Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 03/2014; 126:164-165.
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    ABSTRACT: During brain maturation, the occurrence of the extracellular matrix (ECM) terminates juvenile plasticity by mediating structural stability. Interestingly, enzymatic removal of the ECM restores juvenile forms of plasticity, as for instance demonstrated by topographical reconnectivity in sensory pathways. However, to which degree the mature ECM is a compromise between stability and flexibility in the adult brain impacting synaptic plasticity as a fundamental basis for learning, lifelong memory formation, and higher cognitive functions is largely unknown. In this study, we removed the ECM in the auditory cortex of adult Mongolian gerbils during specific phases of cortex-dependent auditory relearning, which was induced by the contingency reversal of a frequency-modulated tone discrimination, a task requiring high behavioral flexibility. We found that ECM removal promoted a significant increase in relearning performance, without erasing already established-that is, learned-capacities when continuing discrimination training. The cognitive flexibility required for reversal learning of previously acquired behavioral habits, commonly understood to mainly rely on frontostriatal circuits, was enhanced by promoting synaptic plasticity via ECM removal within the sensory cortex. Our findings further suggest experimental modulation of the cortical ECM as a tool to open short-term windows of enhanced activity-dependent reorganization allowing for guided neuroplasticity.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2014; 111(7):2800-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dopaminergic neurotransmission in primary auditory cortex (AI) has been shown to be involved in learning and memory functions. Moreover, dopaminergic projections and D1/D5 receptor distributions display a layer-dependent organization, suggesting specific functions in the cortical circuitry. However, the circuit effects of dopaminergic neurotransmission in sensory cortex and their possible roles in perception, learning, and memory are largely unknown. Here, we investigated layer-specific circuit effects of dopaminergic neuromodulation using current source density (CSD) analysis in AI of Mongolian gerbils. Pharmacological stimulation of D1/D5 receptors increased auditory-evoked synaptic currents in infragranular layers, prolonging local thalamocortical input via positive feedback between infragranular output and granular input. Subsequently, dopamine promoted sustained cortical activation by prolonged recruitment of long-range corticocortical networks. A detailed circuit analysis combining layer-specific intracortical microstimulation (ICMS), CSD analysis, and pharmacological cortical silencing revealed that cross-laminar feedback enhanced by dopamine relied on a positive, fast-acting recurrent corticoefferent loop, most likely relayed via local thalamic circuits. Behavioral signal detection analysis further showed that activation of corticoefferent output by infragranular ICMS, which mimicked auditory activation under dopaminergic influence, was most effective in eliciting a behaviorally detectable signal. Our results show that D1/D5-mediated dopaminergic modulation in sensory cortex regulates positive recurrent corticoefferent feedback, which enhances states of high, persistent activity in sensory cortex evoked by behaviorally relevant stimuli. In boosting horizontal network interactions, this potentially promotes the readout of task-related information from cortical synapses and improves behavioral stimulus detection.
    Journal of Neuroscience 01/2014; 34(4):1234-47. · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge about the anatomical organization of the auditory thalamocortical (TC) system is fundamental for the understanding of auditory information processing in the brain. In the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus), a valuable model species in auditory research, the detailed anatomy of this system has not yet been worked out in detail. Here, we investigated the projections from the three subnuclei of the medial geniculate body (MGB), namely its ventral (MGv), dorsal (MGd), and medial (MGm) division as well as from several of their subdivisions (MGv: pars lateralis LV, pars ovoidea OV, rostral pole RP; MGd: deep dorsal nucleus DD), to the auditory cortex (AC) by stereotaxic pressure-injections and electrophysiologically-guided iontophoretic injections of the anterograde tract tracer biocytin. Our data reveal highly specific features of the TC connections regarding their nuclear origin in the subdivisions of the MGB and their termination patterns in the auditory cortical fields and layers. Besides tonotopically organized projections, primarily of LV, OV, and DD to the AC, a large number of axons diverge across the tonotopic gradient. These originate mainly from RP, MGd (proper), and MGm. In particular, neurons of the MGm project in a columnar fashion to several auditory fields, forming small- and medium-sized boutons, and also hitherto unknown giant terminals. The distinctive layer-specific distribution of axonal endings within the AC indicates that each of the TC connectivity systems has a specific function in auditory cortical processing. J. Comp. Neurol., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 01/2014; · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Disruption of neuronal networks in the Alzheimer-afflicted brain is increasingly recognized as a key correlate of cognitive and memory decline in Alzheimer patients. We hypothesized that functional synaptic disconnections within cortical columnar microcircuits by pathological β- amyloid accumulation, rather than cell death, initially causes the cognitive impairments. During development of cortical β-amyloidosis with still few plaques in the transgenic 5xFAD mouse model single cell resolution mapping of neuronal thallium uptake revealed that electrical activity of pyramidal cells breaks down throughout infragranular cortical layer V long before cell death occurs. Treatment of 5xFAD mice with the glutaminyl cyclase inhibitor, PQ 529, partially prevented the decline of pyramidal cell activity, indicating pyroglutamate-modified forms, potentially mixed oligomers of Aβ, are contributing to neuronal impairment. Laminar investigation of cortical circuit dysfunction with current source density analysis identified an early loss of excitatory synaptic input in infragranular layers, linked to pathological recurrent activations in supragranular layers. This specific disruption of normal cross-laminar cortical processing coincided with a decline of contextual fear learning.
    Neurobiology of Disease 11/2013; · 5.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Propagating waves of excitation have been observed extensively in the neocortex, during both spontaneous and sensory-evoked activity, and they play a critical role in spatially organizing information processing. However, the state-dependence of these spatiotemporal propagation patterns is largely unexplored. In this report, we use voltage-sensitive dye imaging in the rat visual cortex to study the propagation of spontaneous population activity in two discrete cortical states induced by urethane anesthesia. While laminar current source density patterns of spontaneous population events in these two states indicate a considerable degree of similarity in laminar networks, lateral propagation in the more active desynchronized state is approximately 20% faster than in the slower synchronized state. Furthermore, trajectories of wave propagation exhibit a strong anisotropy, but the preferred direction is different depending on cortical state. Our results show that horizontal wave propagation of spontaneous neural activity is largely dependent on the global activity states of local cortical circuits.
    BMC Neuroscience 07/2013; 14(1):78. · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The lateral habenula (LHb) is an epithalamic structure involved in signaling reward omission and aversive stimuli, and it inhibits dopaminergic neurons during motivated behavior. Less is known about LHb involvement in the acquisition and retrieval of avoidance learning. Our previous studies indicated that brief electrical stimulation of the LHb, time-locked to the avoidance of aversive footshock (presumably during the positive affective "relief" state that occurs when an aversive outcome is averted), inhibited the acquisition of avoidance learning. In the present study, we used the same paradigm to investigate different frequencies of LHb stimulation. The effect of 20 Hz vs. 50 Hz vs. 100 Hz stimulation was investigated during two phases, either during acquisition or retrieval in Mongolian gerbils. The results indicated that 50 Hz, but not 20 Hz, was sufficient to produce a long-term impairment in avoidance learning, and was somewhat more effective than 100 Hz in this regard. None of the stimulation parameters led to any effects on retrieval of avoidance learning, nor did they affect general motor activity. This suggests that, at frequencies in excess of the observed tonic firing rates of LHb neurons (>1-20 Hz), LHb stimulation may serve to interrupt the consolidation of new avoidance memories. However, these stimulation parameters are not capable of modifying avoidance memories that have already undergone extensive consolidation.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e65684. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Perception greatly benefits from integrating multiple sensory cues into a unified percept. To study the neural mechanisms of sensory integration, model systems are required that allow the simultaneous assessment of activity and the use of techniques to affect individual neural processes in behaving animals. While rodents qualify for these requirements, little is known about multisensory integration and areas involved for this purpose in the rodent. Using optical imaging combined with laminar electrophysiological recordings, the rat parietal cortex was identified as an area where visual and somatosensory inputs converge and interact. Our results reveal similar response patterns to visual and somatosensory stimuli at the level of current source density (CSD) responses and multi-unit responses within a strip in parietal cortex. Surprisingly, a selective asymmetry was observed in multisensory interactions: when the somatosensory response preceded the visual response, supra-linear summation of CSD was observed, but the reverse stimulus order resulted in sub-linear effects in the CSD. This asymmetry was not present in multi-unit activity however, which showed consistently sub-linear interactions. These interactions were restricted to a specific temporal window, and pharmacological tests revealed significant local intra-cortical contributions to this phenomenon. Our results highlight the rodent parietal cortex as a system to model the neural underpinnings of multisensory processing in behaving animals and at the cellular level.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e63631. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurons integrating sensory stimulus features are found in many brain areas up to cortical level, and their understanding is essential for building and improving neural prostheses. Here, we focus on auditory neural coding in the inferior colliculus (IC). Much work has been conducted to identify the primary spectro-temporal sound features. However, a description of how reliable these features are encoded at IC level remains an open question. In a simplified model, the encoding process can be described by a linear integrator followed by a threshold nonlinearity that creates a binary spike sequence. To account for variability in neural responses, coding noise has to be taken into account. However, coding noise reduces the certainty about the stimulus features encoded. Traditional approaches to quantify the amount of noise based on information theory are prone to sampling bias and cannot be bounded in a simply way, making it hard to interpret the results obtained and to compare them across neural populations. Here, we reformulate neural coding as a spike detection task and show that methods from signal detection theory allow an alternative description to quantify coding noise. Using neural responses from the IC in Mongolian gerbils to acoustic stimuli, we demonstrate that this approach allows a reliable description of neural coding noise, particularly in the small data limit, while being highly correlated with information-theoretic quantities in the large-data regime.
    Neural Engineering (NER), 2013 6th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on; 01/2013

Publication Stats

1k Citations
339.98 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg
      • • Institute of Biology (IBIO)
      • • Clinic for Neurology
      Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
  • 1998–2014
    • Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology
      • Department of Systemphysiology of Learning
      Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
  • 1998–2000
    • University of California, Berkeley
      • Division of Neurobiology
      Berkeley, CA, United States
  • 1996
    • University of California, Irvine
      • Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory
      Irvine, CA, United States
  • 1995
    • Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences
      Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany