Neural Basis of Perception
Attention and contextual knowledge are prerequisites for optimal perception and decision making. The overarching goal of our lab is to achieve a mechanistic neural framework for cognitive control and contextual modulation of perception and behavioral actions.
Towards this goal, our team focuses on tactile sensation, one of the most predominant sensory modalities in rodents to perceive the world. We investigate how tactile inputs are processed and modulated in mouse somatosensory cortex and then gated to the downstream regions. We hypothesize a canonical mechanism of input integration and transformation into spike trains in individual pyramidal neurons at different brain states (e.g., attention), and contexts (e.g., behavioral demands). To achieve this goal, we elucidate 1) the origins and the spatiotemporal structures of the inputs arriving at the neuronal dendrites and 2) the subcellular machineries incorporated at synapses and dendrites to integrate those inputs (e.g., dendritic spikes). We draw on a variety of cutting-edge methods and tools (e.g., in vivo two-photon imaging, wide-field imaging, patch-clamp recording, optogenetics, etc) in combination with highly controlled behavioral paradigms with head-fixed mice.