Du, JL (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Neurosci, 320 Yue Yang Rd, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China.,firstname.lastname@example.org
Visual cues often modulate auditory signal processing, leading to improved sound detection. However, the synaptic and circuit mechanism underlying this cross-modal modulation remains poorly understood. Using larval zebrafish, we first established a cross-modal behavioral paradigm in which a preceding flash enhances sound-evoked escape behavior, which is known to be executed through auditory afferents (VIIIth nerves) and command-like neurons (Mauthner cells). In vivo recording revealed that the visual enhancement of auditory escape is achieved by increasing sound-evoked Mauthner cell responses. This increase in Mauthner cell responses is accounted for by the increase in the signal-to-noise ratio of sound-evoked VIIIth nerve spiking and efficacy of VIIIth nerve-Mauthner cell synapses. Furthermore, the visual enhancement of Mauthner cell response and escape behavior requires light-responsive dopaminergic neurons in the caudal hypothalamus and D1 dopamine receptor activation. Our findings illustrate a cooperative neural mechanism for visual modulation of audiomotor processing that involves dopaminergic neuromodulation.