Understanding the role of visual cortex for working memory
Working memory allows us to execute tasks by retaining information temporarily. The role of some frontal brain areas has been established but we will narrow our scope to the visual cortex to establish its role in working memory, by using its known role in a visual detection task. We will do so by employing optogenetics to a delay-detection task protocol. Optogenetics is the use of light to activate or inhibit genetically modified neurons to express light-sensitive ion channels. Using optogenetic inhibition, brain regions can be temporarily silenced to assess the necessity of the region in particular portions of the task. We will silence the visual cortex during different parts of the task and analyze behavior. If silencing during the delay prevents mice from performing the task well, it would mean that the visual cortex is involved in working memory and that silencing impairs it. If such deficit in behavior is not observed, it would suggest that the visual cortex is not involved in working memory.
Message to Sponsor
- Major: Molecular and Cell Biology: Neurobiology
- Sponsor: Pergo Fund
- Mentor: Hillel Adesnik