Date: January 18, 2018. 12:00
Location: CCU Seminar Room
Title: Neural circuits for goal-directed sensorimotor transformation.
Affiliation: Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.
A key function of the brain is to interpret incoming sensory information in the context of learned associations in order to guide adaptive behavior. However, the precise neuronal circuits and causal mechanisms underlying goal-directed sensorimotor transformations remain to be clearly defined for the mammalian brain. Technological advances in mouse genetics to define cell-types, in optogenetics to control neuronal activity, and in electrophysiological and imaging techniques to precisely measure neuronal activity now begin to make it possible to obtain a detailed mechanistic understanding of the neuronal circuits driving learned goal-directed sensorimotor transformations. Here, I will discuss my laboratory’s efforts to characterize a simple behavior in which thirsty head-restrained mice learn to lick a water reward spout in response to a 1 ms deflection of the C2 whisker. Although we are very far from a complete understanding, we find evidence for cell-type specific contributions of different neurons in both neocortex and striatum, which are likely to participate causally in both learning and execution of this reward-motivated sensorimotor task.