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Neocortical circuits underlying visually-guided behaviors in mice.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CortexVisionBehavior (Neocortical circuits underlying visually-guided behaviors in mice.)

Reporting period: 2016-03-17 to 2018-03-16

We aim to understand how different brain regions, specifically within the cerebral cortex, work together to generate productive behavior. Which neurons in which areas of cortex cooperate to give rise to our ability to perceive, to think, and to act? How do they achieve this cooperation?

The cerebral cortex is a part of the brain that participates in many core functions of human cognition, from perception to memory to action. Understanding how it underlies our thoughts and behaviors is key to understanding how it is disrupted in disorders of cognition, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, and intellectual disabilities. Our research aims to help achieve this understanding by measuring and manipulating the activity of populations of neurons in the cortex of mice while they perform simple behavioral tasks. We hypothesize that the computations we discover performed by the cortex of a simple mammal like a mouse are some of the same ones that are performed by the cortex even in humans, due to the overwhelming similarity of this structure between the species. Therefore, this research will help, in the long run, to relieve the burden on society of disorders and conditions of the brain.
So far, we have succeeded in measuring the activity of thousands of neurons across the cortex of mice using novel electrode array recording technologies. Moreover, we have employed state-of-the-art techniques for inactivating different sets of cortical neurons, to study the role of different parts of cortex in behavior. We have performed these experiments in the context of a sophisticated beahvioral task for rodents that allows us to precisely quantify the perceptual and cognitive factors that underlie the behaviors of the mice.
This project has managed to move far past the state of the art by employing novel technologies for recording brain activity, scaling up recordings to tens of thousands of neurons, and combining these recordings with novel sophisticated behavioral tasks. These experiments are therefore providing a new view of brain activity in the context of behavior. In the future, these results will greatly impact our understanding of the coordination of activity across brain regions and our understanding of the mechanisms of disruption in disease states.
Measuring brain activity at unprecedented scale with novel recording technology