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Walter G. Gonzalez “Overcoming Noise: How networks of neurons adapt to preserve behavior”
Overcoming noise: how networks of neurons adapt to preserve behavior.

Walter G. Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Division of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology
How do neurons across multiple brain areas coordinate their activity to ensure accurate learning, stable memories, and efficient recall of behaviorally relevant information? More importantly, how do these neurons adapt their activity to overcome noise and ensure the persistence of a behavior? Answering these questions is fundamental to developing a framework describing brain function and the mechanisms underlying neurological disorders. Towards this goal, I have developed calcium imaging and electrophysiological recording approaches to monitor large-scale neuronal activity across multiple brain areas in freely moving mice and songbirds. In this talk, I will demonstrate how neuronal activity in the hippocampus of mice undergoes adaptive changes across days. Despite these apparent instabilities, neuronal representations of space at the network level remain stable across time and resilient to damage. In addition, I will present recordings of neuronal activity in singing zebra finches demonstrating how instabilities in neuronal activity lead to a decreased relay of information between brain areas and abnormal behavior. In some cases, this decrease in the transfer of information is corrected by reorganization of neuronal activity and production of special acoustic notes which lead to increased information transfer between brain areas. Overall, these results reveal the presence of adaptive mechanisms in distributed networks of neurons that facilitate the persistence of stable memories and robust performance of complex behaviors.

host: Beth Buffalo
March 17
9:30am - 10:30am