This project will investigate the distribution and origin of spatial coding by recording from large populations of neurons across the brain, using next-generation electrodes developed by the host laboratory. Spatial navigation is a goal-directed task that animals perform daily, and its signals engage a variety of brain systems beyond classical navigational centers such as the hippocampus. I have three aims: (1) to characterize the distribution of spatial signals across the mouse brain, with a focus on sensory regions; (2) to understand how spatial signals interact with sensory signals; (3) to establish whether the spatial signals originate in the hippocampus. The experiments will be performed in mice that navigate virtual environments and will involve next-generation Neuropixels 2.0 probes, capable of recording from hundreds of neurons at a time. First, I will record activity from large populations of neurons across multiple brain regions during virtual navigation and define the interaction of sensory and spatial signals in sensory cortex. Then I will test whether the hippocampus is necessary for spatial coding in visual cortex by manipulating its activity with chemogenetics in transgenic mice. These experiments will provide the first large-scale view of spatial coding across the mouse brain, characterizing the distribution of spatial signals, their computational role, and their causal origin.
I will perform these experiments in the Cortical Processing Laboratory at University College London, led by Professors Matteo Carandini and Kenneth Harris. I am confident I can further develop my skills as an independent researcher while answering exciting scientific questions. Professors Carandini and Harris are experts in conducting large-scale neuronal recordings in mice performing complex behavioral tasks as well as analytical techniques to process large data sets. I am experienced in systems neuroscience techniques and studying goal-directed behavior in mice.
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