Neural circuits for goal-directed sensorimotor transformation

Seminar | May 30 | 2-3:30 p.m. | 125 Li Ka Shing Center

 Carl Petersen, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)

 Neuroscience Institute, Helen Wills

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 whisker-cued operant behavior. 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.