Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Nicotinic regulation of local and long-range input balance drives top-down attentional circuit maturation

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Science Advances  05 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 10, eabe1527
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe1527

Abstract

Cognitive function depends on frontal cortex development; however, the mechanisms driving this process are poorly understood. Here, we identify that dynamic regulation of the nicotinic cholinergic system is a key driver of attentional circuit maturation associated with top-down frontal neurons projecting to visual cortex. The top-down neurons receive robust cholinergic inputs, but their nicotinic tone decreases following adolescence by increasing expression of a nicotinic brake, Lynx1. Lynx1 shifts a balance between local and long-range inputs onto top-down frontal neurons following adolescence and promotes the establishment of attentional behavior in adulthood. This key maturational process is disrupted in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome but was rescued by a suppression of nicotinic tone through the introduction of Lynx1 in top-down projections. Nicotinic signaling may serve as a target to rebalance local/long-range balance and treat cognitive deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders.

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