Optical Interrogation of Brain Microcircuitry Underlying Behavior
Mark Andermann, Harvard University
Nearby neurons in mammalian neocortex demonstrate a great diversity of cell types and connectivity patterns. The importance of this diversity for computation is not understood. While electrophysiological brain recording studies in living animals have provided a rich description of the activity of individual neurons during various behaviors, new methods are needed to dissect the contribution of specific circuit elements in guiding perception, action, and higher cognitive functions.
In this talk, I will provide an overview of the recent explosion of advances in optical monitoring and manipulation of brain circuits in behaving mice. I will argue that local assemblies of neurons with shared anatomical and/or chemical properties may represent a fundamental unit of computation. The field of systems neuroscience has now attained unprecedented experimental access at this scale of local assemblies, stirring hopes of new insights into how our brains work, and how circuit malfunction may underlie a host of neurologic and psychiatric diseases.