ELSC Seminar: October 31st, 2019

ELSC cordially invites you to the lecture given by:


Prof. Michael Shadlen

Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University


On the topic of:

“A premotor circuit responsible for flexible decision making”


Cognitive functions often exploit contingent, hierarchical processes of decision making and executive control, such as when a decision leads to a choice of strategy to engage another stimulus. The latter engagement may be another decision. Neural correlates of such processes have been studied in nonhuman primates, but we lack an understanding of the neural mechanisms at cellular and circuit levels of resolution. We developed a simple task that allows us to tackle this problem in a mouse. It is a variant of a classic XOR problem, realized as an olfactory delayed match to sample task. We reasoned that mice could perform this task by interpreting the sample odor as an instruction to select the appropriate mapping between test odor and behavioral response—a left or right lick. We hypothesized that this hierarchical control might arise by changing the configuration of cortical circuitry in the premotor area ALM. Specifically, test odors A or B should instruct a left- or right-lick, respectively, when the sample odor is A, and irrespectively when the sample odor is B. I will present experimental data bearing on this hypothesis using electrophysiology, Ca imaging and optogenetic inactivation, and I will situate this project in a broader context of decision making and cognitive control.