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Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience

Research line dr J.A.M. (Jeannette) Lorteije

Cellular and network mechanisms underlying multisensory perceptual decisions

Multisensory Integration and Decision Making

How does our brain form a percept of the world? More specifically: what are the cellular and network mechanisms by which information from different senses is combined into neural activity that represents a unified percept of the world? To answer this question we study how cortical neurons process information from different sensory modalities and how their activity correlates with the perceptual decisions of the organism.

Our research line has 2 characteristics that contribute to its uniqueness:

  1. Whereas most research on perceptual decision making (including my previous work, see Lorteije et al. Neuron 2015) focuses on decisions within a single sensory modality, we investigate multisensory decisions.
  2. We study multisensory decisions at the cellular level, and are one of the few labs globally that aim for whole-cell recordings combined with 2-photon imaging and optogenetic techniques in awake and even task-performing rodents. Whole-cell measurements allow us to measure not only the output of the neurons (spikes), but also the input the neurons receive by way of excitatory (EPSP) and inhibitory (IPSP) postsynaptic potentials. Furthermore we gain valuable information on how intrinsic properties of neurons contribute to their function in multisensory processing and decision making. Post-hoc histology further allows us to correlate cell morphology to function.
Example of recording configuration A) Rodents are trained to respond with a right or left lick to specific visual and/or auditory stimuli B) Specific cell types (here: parvalbumin positive interneurons) are fluorescently labelled and can be visualised in vivo using a 2-photon imaging microscope. The recording pipette is visible due to the green fluorescent label in the pipette fluid. Image depicts first contact (seal formation) between pipette and neuron in primary visual cortex (V1). C) Whole-cell recording traces depicting the response to a preferred (blue) and non-preferred (red) visual stimulus (drifting grating with particular orientation, black bar). Both spikes and subthreshold potentials can be observed.

Collaborators on this project:

  • Prof. Dr. Cyriel Pennartz
  • Ing. Laura van Mourik-Donga (technician)
  • Tobio Aarts (master student)
  • Ulf Schnabel (PhD student NIN)

Contact info (for internships):

Key Publications:

* shared first authors