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:
- 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.
- 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.