Computational modeling of light processing in the habenula and dorsal raphe based on laser ablation of functionally-defined cells

Cheng, R.K., Jagannathan, N.S., Kathrada, A.I., Jesuthasan, S., Tucker-Kellogg, L.
BMC Neuroscience   25: 2222 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Jesuthasan, Suresh
Computational modelling, Functional imaging, Light processing system, Multilayer perceptron, Neural circuits, Neural network, Pulsatile activation, Two-photon microscopy
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dorsal Raphe Nucleus
  • Habenula*/physiology
  • Habenula*/surgery
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Zebrafish
38627616 Full text @ BMC Neurosci.
The habenula is a major regulator of serotonergic neurons in the dorsal raphe, and thus of brain state. The functional connectivity between these regions is incompletely characterized. Here, we use the ability of changes in irradiance to trigger reproducible changes in activity in the habenula and dorsal raphe of zebrafish larvae, combined with two-photon laser ablation of specific neurons, to establish causal relationships.
Neurons in the habenula can show an excitatory response to the onset or offset of light, while neurons in the anterior dorsal raphe display an inhibitory response to light, as assessed by calcium imaging. The raphe response changed in a complex way following ablations in the dorsal habenula (dHb) and ventral habenula (vHb). After ablation of the ON cells in the vHb (V-ON), the raphe displayed no response to light. After ablation of the OFF cells in the vHb (V-OFF), the raphe displayed an excitatory response to darkness. After ablation of the ON cells in the dHb (D-ON), the raphe displayed an excitatory response to light. We sought to develop in silico models that could recapitulate the response of raphe neurons as a function of the ON and OFF cells of the habenula. Early attempts at mechanistic modeling using ordinary differential equation (ODE) failed to capture observed raphe responses accurately. However, a simple two-layer fully connected neural network (NN) model was successful at recapitulating the diversity of observed phenotypes with root-mean-squared error values ranging from 0.012 to 0.043. The NN model also estimated the raphe response to ablation of D-off cells, which can be verified via future experiments.
Lesioning specific cells in different regions of habenula led to qualitatively different responses to light in the dorsal raphe. A simple neural network is capable of mimicking experimental observations. This work illustrates the ability of computational modeling to integrate complex observations into a simple compact formalism for generating testable hypotheses, and for guiding the design of biological experiments.
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