Subcortical Neural Coding
& Dynamics

Ilana Witten, Sam Wang, David Tank
Scott Bolkan, Ben Engelhard, Edward Nieh, Marlies Oostland

This project focuses on characterization of the neural dynamics underlying working memory and decision-making in a network of subcortical regions. Specifically, cellular-resolution two- and three-photon calcium imaging will be used to characterize neural coding and dynamics in dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra, granule cells and Purkinje cells of the cerebellum, medium spiny neurons in the striatum, and pyramidal cells in the hippocampus. This data will be supplemented with multi-electrode recordings, which capture fast neural activity that calcium imaging cannot. The experiments will combine these two data types for the first time in the setting of a working memory and decision-making task. The results from this project, together with those from another component that investigates similar measures in neocortex, are expected to provide an unprecedented amount of data that will give new insight into the processing of task-relevant information during a cognitive task across a wide variety of cortical and subcortical areas. Another component will combine these results with temporally and spatially specific inactivation data from the other two components to build and constrain a biophysically realistic, multi-region computational model of the behavior.