A Genetic Locus Mediating Attentional Processing.

TitleA Genetic Locus Mediating Attentional Processing.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsGershon Z, Bonito-Oliva A, Kanke M, Terceros A, Fak J, Ianone A, Gebrehemedin M, Garcia NVDe Marco, Sethupathy P, Rajasethupathy P
Date Published2023 Mar 18

Attention is required for most higher-order cognitive functions, but despite extensive and careful study, central unifying principles have been challenging to elicit. To provide a new perspective, we took a forward genetics approach to identify genes with large contributions to attentional performance. We studied 200 genetically diverse mice on measures of pre-attentive processing and through genetic mapping identified a small locus on chromosome 13 (95%CI: 92.22-94.09 Mb), driving substantial variation (19%) in this trait. Further characterization of the locus revealed a causative gene, Homer1a , a synaptic protein, whose down-regulation specifically in prefrontal excitatory cells during a developmental critical period (Homer1 down-regulation is associated with GABAergic receptor up-regulation in those same cells and an overall inhibitory tone in prefrontal cortex. This inhibitory tone was relieved during task performance, where large increases in locus-coeruleus (LC) to prefrontal cortex (PFC) coupling led to sustained elevations in PFC activity, specifically prior to cue-onset, predicting short-latency correct responses. Notably high- Homer1a , low-attentional performers, exhibited constantly elevated LC-PFC correlations and PFC response magnitudes both at baseline and during task. Thus, rather than overall increases in neural activity, a scalable dynamic range of LC-PFC coupling and of pre-cue PFC responses supported attentional performance. We thus identify a gene with outsized contributions to attentional performance - Homer1 - and link this with prefrontal inhibitory tone as an important component of dynamic task-dependent neuromodulation during attention.

Alternate JournalbioRxiv
PubMed ID36993710
PubMed Central IDPMC10055164