Contribution of nonlinear dendritic integration to cortical circuit’s operation and behavior
Intelligence is the ability to learn appropriate responses to stimuli and the capacity to master new skills. Synaptic integration at the dendritic level is thought to be essential for this ability through linear and non-linear processing, by allowing neurons to be tuned to relevant information and to maximize adaptive behavior. Showing that dendrites are able to generate local computations that influence how animals perceive the world, form a new memory or learn a new skill was a break-through in neuroscience, since in the past they were seen as passive elements of the neurons, just funneling information to the soma. My research goal is to understand the role of dendritic integration in improving the neuronal network performance, and how this process regulates, during learning, the dynamics of cortical representations that drive complex behaviors such as decision-making and action-selection. My HDR dissertation embraces all the efforts that I put during the past decade towards this goal.