Neurons in the neocortex of the brain possess elaborate dendritic arbors that receive and integrate diverse input signals. In many cortical areas, information from different sensory modalities (visual, auditory, tactile) converges onto the superficial dendritic tufts of pyramidal neurons. Adaptations of how dendrites integrate these inputs – depending on their behavioral relevance – may be required for animals to learn appropriately. In this project, we use and further develop the tools developed in the project Dendritic adaptation during learning with the goal to study how multisensory learning depends on integration in dendrites. We develop a behavioral paradigm for quantification of multisensory learning in mice in collaboration with the research groups of Christian Ruff and Silvia Brem, who apply similar tasks in human experiments.
Once the behavioral tasks are established, we aim to measure dendritic activity and its learning-related changes using chronic two-photon calcium imaging during stimulus presentation and during reward-based learning. In addition, by interfering with dendritic integration, we will verify its relevance for successful adaptation of behavior.
Fritjof Helmchen, Christian Ruff, Silvia Brem, Valerio Mante. PhD Student: Johanna Nieweler