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Catecholamine-Mediated Increases in Gain Enhance the Precision of Cortical Representations

Author(s): Warren, Christopher M.; Eldar, Eran; van den Brink, Ruud L.; Tona, Klodiana-Daphne; van der Wee, Nic J.; et al

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Abstract: Neurophysiological evidence suggests that neuromodulators, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, increase neural gain in target brain areas. Computational models and prominent theoretical frameworks indicate that this should enhance the precision of neural representations, but direct empirical evidence for this hypothesis is lacking. In two functional MRI studies, we examine the effect of baseline catecholamine levels (as indexed by pupil diameter and manipulated pharmacologically) on the precision of object representations in the human ventral temporal cortex using angular dispersion, a powerful, multivariate metric of representational similarity (precision). We first report the results of computational model simulations indicating that increasing catecholaminergic gain should reduce the angular dispersion, and thus increase the precision, of object representations from the same category, as well as reduce the angular dispersion of object representations from distinct categories when distinct-category representations overlap. In Study 1 (N 24), we show that angular dispersion covaries with pupil diameter, an index of baseline catecholamine levels. In Study 2 (N 24), we manipulate catecholamine levels and neural gain using the norepinephrine transporter blocker atomoxetine and demonstrate consistent, causal effects on angular dispersion and brain-wide functional connectivity. Despite the use of very different methods of examining the effect of baseline catecholamine levels, our results show a striking convergence and demonstrate that catecholamines increase the precision of neural representations.
Publication Date: 25-May-2016
Electronic Publication Date: 25-May-2016
Citation: Warren, CM, Eldar, E, van den Brink, RL, Tona, K-D, van der Wee, NJ, Giltay, EJ, van Noorden, MS, Bosch, JA, Wilson, RC, Cohen, JD, Nieuwenhuis, S. (2016). Catecholamine-Mediated Increases in Gain Enhance the Precision of Cortical Representations. Journal of Neuroscience, 36 (21), 5699 - 5708. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3475-15.2016
DOI: doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3475-15.2016
ISSN: 0270-6474
EISSN: 1529-2401
Pages: 5699 - 5708
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Neuroscience
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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