Mykyta M. Chernov, Robert M. Friedman, Gang Chen, Gene R. Stoner, and Anna Wang Roe/ PNAS October 9, 2018 115 (41) 10505-10510; published ahead of print September 26, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1802018115
Primate visual cortex is organized into columns that process different features of a visual scene, such as color, orientation preference, and ocular dominance. Until now, their small size has made it difficult to modulate them directly. Here, we report for the first time that focal targeting of light-sensitive ion channels (channelrhodopsins) in macaques using lentiviral vectors allows one to stimulate functional domains. We show that such targeted stimulation leads to selective activation of anatomically connected neighboring domains with similar function. Such a fine-scale optical stimulation approach is capable of mapping functionally specific domain-based neuronal networks. Its potential for linking such networks to optogenetic modulation of perception and behavior opens doors for developing targeted, domain-based neuroprosthetics.
In primates, visual perception is mediated by brain circuits composed of submillimeter nodes linked together in specific networks that process different types of information, such as eye specificity and contour orientation. We hypothesized that optogenetic stimulation targeted to cortical nodes could selectively activate such cortical networks. We used viral transfection methods to confer light sensitivity to neurons in monkey primary visual cortex. Using intrinsic signal optical imaging and single-unit electrophysiology to assess effects of targeted optogenetic stimulation, we found that (i) optogenetic stimulation of single ocular dominance columns (eye-specific nodes) revealed preferential activation of nearby same-eye columns but not opposite-eye columns, and (ii) optogenetic stimulation of single orientation domains increased visual response of matching orientation domains and relatively suppressed nonmatching orientation selectivity. These findings demonstrate that optical stimulation of single nodes leads to modulation of functionally specific cortical networks related to underlying neural architecture.