Circuit mechanisms of learning and decision making
Dr Armin Lak
University of Oxford
Making decisions is part of every aspect of our lives. Research in neuroscience has identified brain regions which play fundamental roles when we make choices. However, it remains unknown how the neuronal circuits embedded in these brain regions regulate learning and decision making. Our team aims to answer this question at the level of individual neurons and their communication pathways.
We will teach mice to perform a simple decision-based task. Meanwhile, we will study the electrical activity of cells in the front part of the brain, a critical node for decision making, and dopamine-producing cells, known to be involved in learning. We will go one step further and test if we can influence learning by activating specific cellular communication pathways using novel optical methods.
This research could shed light on why and how the brain begins to dysfunction in psychiatric disorders by understanding the cellular foundation of decision making.