The Claustrum Supports Resilience to Distraction

Gal Atlan, Anna Terem, Noa Peretz-Rivlin, Kamini Sehrawat, Ben Jerry Gonzales, Guy Pozner, Gen ichi Tasaka, Yael Goll, Ron Refaeli, Ori Zviran, Byung Kook Lim, Maya Groysman, Inbal Goshen, Adi Mizrahi, Israel Nelken, Ami Citri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


A barrage of information constantly assaults our senses, of which only a fraction is relevant at any given point in time. However, the neural circuitry supporting the suppression of irrelevant sensory distractors is not completely understood. The claustrum, a circuit hub with vast cortical connectivity, is an intriguing brain structure, whose restrictive anatomy, thin and elongated, has precluded functional investigation. Here, we describe the use of Egr2-CRE mice to access genetically defined claustral neurons. Utilizing conditional viruses for anterograde axonal labeling and retrograde trans-synaptic tracing, we validated this transgenic model for accessing the claustrum and extended the known repertoire of claustral input/output connectivity. Addressing the function of the claustrum, we inactivated CLEgr2+ neurons, chronically as well as acutely, in mice performing an automated two-alternative forced-choice behavioral task. Strikingly, inhibition of CLEgr2+ neurons did not significantly impact task performance under varying delay times and cue durations, but revealed a selective role for the claustrum in supporting performance in the presence of an irrelevant auditory distractor. Further investigation of behavior, in the naturalistic maternal pup-retrieval task, replicated the result of sensitization to an auditory distractor following inhibition of CLEgr2+ neurons. Initiating investigation into the underlying mechanism, we found that activation of CLEgr2+ neurons modulated cortical sensory processing, suppressing tone representation in the auditory cortex. This functional study, utilizing selective genetic access, implicates the claustrum in supporting resilience to distraction, a fundamental aspect of attention. Atlan, Terem, et al. describe the use of Egr2-CRE mice to access claustral projection neurons, identifying reciprocal connectivity throughout the brain. Silencing of CLEgr2+ neurons renders mice susceptible to an auditory distractor. Congruently, tone representation in the auditory cortex is suppressed by activation of CLEgr2+ neurons, suggesting an underlying mechanism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2752-2762.e7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • attention
  • auditory cortex
  • chemogenetics
  • claustrum
  • cortical gain
  • distraction
  • fiber photometry
  • optogenetics
  • sensory selection
  • transgenic


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