Neurons in the neocortex of the brain possess elaborate dendritic arbors that receive and integrate diverse input signals. In this project, we aim to identify salient changes in dendritic responses during learning by performing chronic two-photon calcium imaging in mice during texture discrimination learning. This technique allows tracking activity in the same dendritic branches from naïve (first trials of the behavioral task) to expert state. We apply sophisticated high-dimensional analysis across trials to extract learning-related changes. In addition, we apply a technic called optogenetic inhibition – which suppresses dendritic activity - to test whether the observed signals are relevant for learning.
This project fits into the scope of revealing the circuit basis of learning and establishing perturbation tools for hypothesis testing. The dendritic level of circuit dynamics is likely to undergo major adaptations during both development and learning.
Fritjof Helmchen, Valerio Mante. PhD Student: Gwendolin Schönfeld (until 31.08.2022)
Schoenfeld G, Kollmorgen S, Lewis C, Bethge P, Reuss AM, Aguzzi A, Mante V, Helmchen F (2021) Dendritic integration of sensory and reward information facilitates learning. bioRxiv, doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.28.474360. (Preprint)
Underlined: AdaBD researchers