Understanding how neural activity corresponds to visual perception has been a milestone question in neuroscience research. Traditionally this question has been addressed using a ‘correlative’ approach, i.e. by correlating neural activity with different perceptual states or different sensory conditions. Although many studies have shed light on how perception corresponds to neural activity, a causal relationship between the occurrence of particular neural events and the perception of sensory stimuli has yet to be established.
In this project we aim to answer this question by using recently developed genetic tools for remote control of neuronal firing that now permit the detailed investigation of how neural activity influences behavior. Specifically, we propose to use two-photon calcium imaging to recognize single neurons with particular functional properties in mouse visual cortex and accurately identify their location within the network. Subsequently, we will use this information to transfect these neurons with channelrhodopsin-2 (Chr2) using single cell electroporation. Chr2 is a light gated ion channel, which enables precise triggering of action potential firing by flashes of blue light. We will then test the influence of induced action potentials in this functionally defined subset of neurons on visual detection performance of mice. This approach will enable us to determine how many and which neurons are important for visual performance and assess their contribution to visual perception.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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