Heterogeneous side effects of cortical inactivation in behaving animals

Ariana R. Andrei, Samantha Debes, Mircea Chelaru, Xiaoqin Liu, Elsa Rodarte, John L. Spudich, Roger Janz, Valentin Dragoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cortical inactivation represents a key causal manipulation allowing the study of cortical circuits and their impact on behavior. A key assumption in inactivation studies is that the neurons in the target area become silent while the surrounding cortical tissue is only negligibly impacted. However, individual neurons are embedded in complex local circuits composed of excitatory and inhibitory cells with connections extending hundreds of microns. This raises the possibility that silencing one part of the network could induce complex, unpredictable activity changes in neurons outside the targeted inactivation zone. These off-target side effects can potentially complicate inter-pretations of inactivation manipulations, especially when they are related to changes in behavior. Here, we demonstrate that optogenetic inactivation of glutamatergic neurons in the superficial layers of monkey primary visual cortex (V1) induces robust suppression at the light-targeted site, but destabilizes stimulus responses in the neighboring, untargeted network. We identified four types of stimulus-evoked neuronal responses within a cortical column, ranging from full suppression to facil-itation, and a mixture of both. Mixed responses were most prominent in middle and deep cortical layers. These results demonstrate that response modulation driven by lateral network connectivity is diversely implemented throughout a cortical column. Importantly, consistent behavioral changes induced by optogenetic inactivation were only achieved when cumulative network activity was homogeneously suppressed. Therefore, careful consideration of the full range of network changes outside the inactivated cortical region is required, as heterogeneous side effects can confound inter-pretation of inactivation experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere66400
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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