Cortical circuitry underlying behavioral context and learning

Year of award: 2022


  • Prof Randy Bruno

    University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Project summary

The neocortex mediates cognition, encompassing a diverse set of abilities including sensation, perception, decision making, planning, and movement. Dysfunctions of neocortex are thought to underlie numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders. All neocortical areas share a common laminar architecture, with stereotyped patterns of connectivity linking any given layer with another layer or with other nervous system structures. The computational and behavioral roles of the different layers have largely remained enigmatic. We will combine sensory discrimination tasks with cutting-edge approaches for manipulating, recording, imaging, and analyzing neuronal populations to investigate how cortical circuitry flexibly performs multiple task. This study will investigate the computational, behavioral, and plastic properties of layers in somatosensory cortex. Our first goal is to test the theory that upper layers create high-dimensional representations to flexibly support multiple complex tasks which deep layers balance with low-dimensional representations to enhance generalization. Our second goal is to understand cellular and circuit mechanisms by which cortex acquires task-dependent contextual representations during learning. Our study will contribute to new frameworks for understanding how all neocortical areas enable behavior and how various disorders disrupt cognitive processing.