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Journal Article

Decoding locomotion from population neural activity in moving C. elegans


Scholz,  Monika
Max Planck Research Group Neural Information Flow, Center of Advanced European Studies and Research (caesar), Max Planck Society;
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Hallinen, K. M., Dempsey, R., Scholz, M., Yu, X., Linder, A., Randi, F., et al. (2021). Decoding locomotion from population neural activity in moving C. elegans. eLife, 10: e66135. doi:10.7554/eLife.66135.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-A6A0-7
The activity of an animal’s brain contains information about that animal’s actions and movements. We investigated the neural representation of locomotion in the nematode C. elegans by recording population calcium activity during unrestrained movement. We report that a neural population more accurately decodes locomotion than any single neuron. Relevant signals are distributed across neurons with diverse tunings to locomotion. Two distinct subpopulations are informative for decoding velocity and body curvature, and different neurons’ activities contribute features relevant for different instances of behavioral motifs. We labeled neurons AVAL and AVAR and found their activity was highly correlated with one another. They exhibited expected transients during backward locomotion, although they were not always the most informative neurons for decoding velocity. Finally, we compared population neural activity during movement and immobilization. Immobilization alters the correlation structure of neural activity and its dynamics. Some neurons previously correlated with AVA become anti-correlated and vice versa.