Chris Rodgers - Perception in Action: Neural Circuits for Active Auditory and Tactile Decision-making
From Steven Marzec
How do we explore and learn about our world? In nature, animals do not passively await stimuli, as they typically must do in the laboratory. Instead, they actively seek out sensory information—for instance, to find food or shelter. I will first present a summary of my postdoctoral work, which showed how mice recognize different shapes using their whiskers. We used a new method called behavioral decoding to show what sensorimotor strategies mice used to recognize shapes, and we identified an efficient formatting for those strategies in somatosensory cortex. Next, I will present new work from my own lab. We have developed an active sound-seeking task for mice, in which they use head and body movements to find sound sources. We hypothesize that sensory and motor brain regions exchange predictive signals to compute how best to move the body to localize the sound. In future work we plan to identify how central sensorimotor plasticity enables resilience to sensory loss, with the ultimate goal of rationally engineering neural interventions to restore healthy sensorimotor function.