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Reverse engineering sensory perception and decision making: Bridging physiology, anatomy and behavior

MPS-Authors
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Oberlaender,  Marcel
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Former Research Group Computational Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Egger,  Robert
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Former Research Group Computational Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Narayanan,  Rajeevan Therpurakal
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Former Research Group Computational Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Udvary,  Daniel
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Former Research Group Computational Neuroanatomy, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Oberlaender, M., Egger, R., Narayanan, R. T., Udvary, D., Guest, J., Johnson, A., et al. (2014). Reverse engineering sensory perception and decision making: Bridging physiology, anatomy and behavior. Poster presented at 44th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2014), Washington, DC, USA.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-321C-8
Abstract
Understanding how the brain is able to transform sensory input into decisions is one of the major challenges of systems neuroscience. While recording/imaging during sensory-motor tasks identified neural substrates of sensation and action in various cortical areas, the crucial questions of 1) how these correlates are implemented within the underlying neural networks and 2) how their output triggers decisions, will only be answered when the individual functional measurements are integrated into a coherent model of all task-related circuits. The goal of our research is to use the rodent vibrissal system for building such a model in the context of how a tactile-mediated percept is encoded by the interplay between biophysical, cellular and network mechanisms. Specifically, rodents decide to cross a gap when detecting its far side with a single facial whisker. This suggests that whisker contact with the platform, if synchronized with an internal motor signal, triggers the decision. To test this hypothesis, we will determine all sensory/motor-related local and long-range whisker pathways, measure whisker-evoked responses of these populations and use the data to constrain network simulations of active whisker touch. Using a multidisciplinary approach, combining in vivo electrophysiology, virus injections, custom imaging/reconstruction tools and Monte Carlo simulations, our reverse engineering strategy will provide unmatched mechanistic insight to perceptual decision making and will function as a show case - generalizable across sensory modalities and species - of how to derive computations that underlie behavior.