Genetic tagging of active neurons in auditory cortex reveals maternal plasticity of coding ultrasonic vocalizations

Gen Ichi Tasaka, Casey J. Guenthner, Amos Shalev, Omri Gilday, Liqun Luo, Adi Mizrahi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Cortical neurons are often functionally heterogeneous even for molecularly defined subtypes. In sensory cortices, physiological responses to natural stimuli can be sparse and vary widely even for neighboring neurons. It is thus difficult to parse out circuits that encode specific stimuli for further experimentation. Here, we report the development of a Cre-reporter mouse that allows recombination for cellular labeling and genetic manipulation, and use it with an activity-dependent Fos-CreERT2 driver to identify functionally active circuits in the auditory cortex. In vivo targeted patch recordings validate our method for neurons responding to physiologically relevant natural sounds such as pup wriggling calls and ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs). Using this system to investigate cortical responses in postpartum mothers, we find a transient recruitment of neurons highly responsive to USVs. This subpopulation of neurons has distinct physiological properties that improve the coding efficiency for pup USV calls, implicating it as a unique signature in parental plasticity.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number871
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank members of the Mizrahi and Luo laboratories for comments on the manuscript. We thank Maya Groysman for making the adeno-associated virus, and Ido Maor, Libi Feigin, and Eli Nelken for technical help. We thank Laura DeNardo and Lindsay Schwarz for technical assistance with rabies virus production. This work was supported by an ERC grant to A.M. (#616063), a Howard Hughes Institute Collaborative Award and a US-Israel Bi-national grant to L.L. and A.M. G.T. was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Uehara Memorial Foundation and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences. We thank the Gatsby charitable foundation for support. Parts of this study were conducted at the renovated Charles E. Smith family and Prof. Joel Elkes laboratory for collaborative research in psychobiology.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


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