Local and large-scale circuit mechanisms of flexible decision making

Project: Research project

Project Details


We will tackle a central problem in neurobiology: how can we flexibly route information through the same local and large-scale brain circuits to make different kinds of decisions, seamlessly matching ever-changing behavioral demands? Over the next ten years, we will develop two parallel research avenues on different aspects of this problem. In the first avenue, we will discover the brain circuits that detect changes in behavioral context and coordinate global cortical activity to support different types of decisions. Our initial areas of focus within this avenue are: 1) the role of prefrontal microcircuits in detecting behavioral-context changes; 2) the role of neuromodulators such as acetylcholine in coordinating activity across the cerebral cortex according to task demands; and 3) the relative roles of prefrontal and neuromodulatory input to the visual cortex in selecting the appropriate sensory information in time or space to guide decision making. In the second research avenue, we will reveal the behavioral principles that explain why different cortical areas are recruited for different behaviors. Our current areas of focus within this second avenue are: 1) the role of timescales over which mental operations unfold in determining how and when different areas of the cortex are recruited in different types of decision-making tasks; and 2) developing novel approaches to causally probe cortical function by combining stochastic spatiotemporal patterns of light to perturb cortical activity with behavioral modeling. To accomplish the goals outlined above, we use a unique multi-pronged systems, circuits and behavioral neuroscience approach that includes state-of-the-art optical tools to record and manipulate neural activity with cellular or mesoscale resolution, genetic tools for circuit dissection, trans-synaptic tracing, large-scale extracellular electrophysiology, high-throughput mouse behavior in virtual reality, and computational modeling.
Effective start/end date9/15/229/14/24


  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (FG-2022-19027)


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