Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Research Interests: Neuronal circuits that mediate behavioral flexibility and attention; auditory coding; neural computation
Overview: We study the neural circuits that mediate auditory cognition. Our goal is to understand how we assign meaning to sounds, how we attend to sounds or ignore them, how we remember them, and how disorders of the brain can affect these processes.
Of particular interest is how our responses to sounds can change depending on context, a phenomenon called behavioral flexibility. Behaving appropriately after changes in context requires that organisms rapidly modify their expectations, associations between cues and rewards, or attentional state. Our lab investigates these cognitive processes by addressing three questions:
- What happens to the speed and accuracy of behavioral responses after a change in context?
- Where in the brain is information selected and re-routed to allow for different interpretations of the same stimulus?
- How do neural circuits implement this flexibility?
In our experiments, we use tools for monitoring and manipulating neuronal activity of specific cell types in behaving rodents, together with theoretical and computational approaches, to uncover the mechanisms that underlie flexible behaviors.
The role of sensory cortex in behavioral flexibility.
Neuroscience. 2017 Mar 14;345:3-11
Authors: Guo L, Ponvert ND, Jaramillo S
To thrive in a changing environment, organisms evolved strategies for rapidly modifying their behavioral responses to sensory stimuli. In this review, we investigate the role of sensory cortical circuits in these flexible behaviors. First, we provide a framework for classifying tasks in which flexibility is required. We then present studies in animal models which demonstrate that responses of sensory cortical neurons depend on the expected outcome associated with a stimulus. Last, we discuss inactivation studies which indicate that sensory cortex facilitates behavioral flexibility, but is not always required for adapting to changes in environmental conditions. This analysis provides insights into the contributions of cortical and subcortical sensory circuits to flexibility in behavior.
PMID: 27066768 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]