Muscarinic receptors regulate auditory and prefrontal cortical communication during auditory processing
Much of our understanding about how acetylcholine modulates prefrontal cortical (PFC) networks comes from behavioral experiments that examine cortical dynamics during highly attentive states. However, much less is known about how PFC is recruited during passive sensory processing and how acetylcholine may regulate connectivity between cortical areas outside of task performance. To investigate the involvement of PFC and cholinergic neuromodulation in passive auditory processing, we performed simultaneous recordings in the auditory cortex (AC) and PFC in awake head fixed mice presented with a white noise auditory stimulus in the presence or absence of local cholinergic antagonists in AC. We found that a subset of PFC neurons were strongly driven by auditory stimuli even when the stimulus had no associative meaning, suggesting PFC monitors stimuli under passive conditions. We also found that cholinergic signaling in AC shapes the strength of auditory driven response in PFC, by modulating the intra-cortical sensory response through muscarinic interactions in AC. Taken together, these findings provide novel evidence that cholinergic mechanisms have a continuous role in cortical gating through muscarinic receptors during passive processing and expand traditional views of prefrontal cortical function and the contributions of cholinergic modulation in sensory gating.
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