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Pupil fluctuations track fast switching of cortical states during quiet wakefulness
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    Neural responses are modulated by brain state, which varies with arousal, attention, and behavior. In mice, running and whisking desynchronize the cortex and enhance sensory responses, but the quiescent periods between bouts of exploratory behaviors have not been well studied. We found that these periods of "quiet wakefulness" were characterized by state fluctuations on a timescale of 1-2 s. Small fluctuations in pupil diameter tracked these state transitions in multiple cortical areas. During dilation, the intracellular membrane potential was desynchronized, sensory responses were enhanced, and population activity was less correlated. In contrast, constriction was characterized by increased low-frequency oscillations and higher ensemble correlations. Specific subtypes of cortical interneurons were differentially activated during dilation and constriction, consistent with their participation in the observed state changes. Pupillometry has been used to index attention and mental effort in humans, but the intracellular dynamics and differences in population activity underlying this phenomenon were previously unknown.

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  • Funding:
    DP1 EY023176/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
    DP1 OD008301/OD/NIH HHS/United States
    DP1EY023176/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
    DP1OD008301/OD/NIH HHS/United States
    F30 MH095440/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
    F30MH095440/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
    P30EY002520/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
    R01 DA028525/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    R01DA028525/DA/NIDA NIH HHS/United States
    T32 EB006350/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
    T32 EY007001/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
    T32 GM007330/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States
    T32EB006350/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
    T32EY07001/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
    T32GM007330/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States
    U54 HD083092/HD/NICHD NIH HHS/United States
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