Vacancies

Currently, we have several Master internship opportunities available in our lab. If you are interested please do not hesitate to contact us and make sure to include a short motivation statement and CV.

Background

Navigating our complex and ever-changing environment requires a: the integration of information processed by our senses, b: making decisions based on sensory information, previous experience and context, and c: the programming of goal-directed behavior. Consider, for instance, the crossing of a busy street by foot during rush hour: You hear the cars swooshing by and you see red traffic lights on your side of the street. You know that this means wait until the lights turn ‘green’. In contrast, if the traffic lights are red during nighttime and the street is deserted you might consider crossing the street without waiting for the green ‘go-cue'. The neuronal basis of decisions based on external cues, multisensory information an prior knowledge that lead to goal-directed behavior is poorly understood despite considerable progress made since the first neurophysiological recordings.
traffic lights to explain behavioral decisions

Research Questions

  • How does cue information modulate multisensory integration in sensory cortices?
    For instance, on the single-cell level, is visual modulation of auditory cortex neurons suppressed if the subject is cued to pay attention to a sound and to ignore a light?
  • What is the spatiotemporal activity pattern in the cortical column observed with cued multisensory integration?
    For instance, on the mesoscopic level, which cortical layers are active during the cueing and sensory stimulation periods, respectively.
  • Which cortical circuits are involved in mediating cue information?
    For instance, on the macroscopic level, does optogenetic inhibition of neurons in prefrontal cortex, which are known to be involved in remembering the cue (working memory), abolish the suppression of visual modulation on auditory cortex in an auditory cued context?

Approach

The focus of our research is the combination of behavioral paradigms and large-scale extracellular neurophysiology with and without optogenetic manipulation to dissociate neural feedforward and feedback signals in cortical networks involved in audiovisual decision making. We achieve this dissociation by posing different task contexs via cueing while keeping the physical stimuli identical across the different contexts. Different contexts activate distinct processing networks and evoke distinct neural activity patterns. Additionally, we manipulate neural activity at certain time points of the behavioral task optogenetcially to delineate the contribution of the disrupted areas in the execution of the task.

Techniques

techniques used in lab