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The many layers of touch - Randy Bruno

Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institue, seminar series
November 14, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Clark Center Auditorium

Randy Bruno

Randy Bruno, PhD 

Associate Professor,
Department of Neuroscience,
Columbia University

Host: John Huguenard 


The neocortex mediates all of human and animal cognition—breathtakingly encompassing sensation, perception, decision making, and movement. These diverse functions are achieved by highly stereotyped circuitry that nature appears to have iterated across the entire surface of the brain. Recently we discovered that ascending signals from thalamus are copied separately to the superficial and deep layers of sensory cortex. Despite dense connections between layers, ascending thalamic signals account for all the sensory-driven activity of the deep layers. I will present our latest anatomical and physiological results demonstrating independence of these two sets of layers as well as possible mechanisms for gating their interactions. We are presently investigating the necessity of the primary somatosensory cortex and its constituent layers in tactile object recognition. I will show how modern optogenetic and older lesion approaches can lead to radically different conclusions about the necessity of a brain structure to behavior. We have found that sensory cortex is dispensable for learning and performing some of the field’s most widely used behavioral paradigms. This underscores the competency of subcortical systems at basic behavioral tasks and suggests alternative mechanisms for how cortex contributes to complex behavior.

Bruno Lab 

Curriculum vitae

Related paper

[1] Y. Kate Hong, Clay O. Lacefield, Chris C. Rodgers & Randy M. Bruno. Sensation, movement and learning in the absence of barrel cortexl. Nature 2018 volume 561, pages542546 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0527-y

[2] Clay O. Lacefield, Eftychios A. Pnevmatikakis, Liam Paninski, Randy M. Bruno Reinforcement Learning Recruits Somata and Apical Dendrites across Layers of Primary Sensory Cortex. Cell Volume 26, Issue 8, 19 February 2019, Pages 2000-2008.e2 DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2019.01.093

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