Neural circuit dynamics during virtual navigation and decision-making - David Tank

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Thursday, October 1, 2015
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11:15am to 12:00pm PDT
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David Tank, PhD

Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology
Professor of Neuroscience and Molecular Biology
Co-Director, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Neural circuit dynamics during virtual navigation and decision-making

Abstract: We have developed virtual reality systems for rodents over the last several years that facilitate the application of both in vivo whole cell patch recording and large scale recording (cellular resolution two-photon calcium imaging and tetrodes) to the study of neural dynamics during navigation and decision making. In our mouse behavioral apparatus, mice walk and run on the surface of a spherical treadmill while their head remains stationary in space (Dombeck, Khabbaz et al., Neuron 56:43-57 (2007)). Our rat VR system (Aronov and Tank, Neuron 84(2), 442-456 (2014)) is similar except that the body is free to turn on the surface of the treadmill. Remarkably, mice and rats adapt quickly to our VR systems and can be trained through instrumental conditioning to navigate for rewards in virtual linear tracks, T-mazes and arenas (Dombeck et al., Nature Neurosci. 13:1433-40 (2010); Harvey et al., Nature 484:62-8 (2012)). The use of this instrumentation will be illustrated with several examples of our recent studies, including the measurement of intracellular dynamics and population activity of hippocampal place cells, grid cell firing fields in virtual environments, and neocortical neural coding during decisions.

Bio: David W. Tank is the Henry L. Hillman professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University and Co-Director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. He also directs the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics. At the Simons Foundation, he is the Director of the Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain.

Dr. Tank earned his B.S. in Physics and Mathematics at Case Western Reserve University in 1976 and a Ph.D. degree in Physics from Cornell University in 1983. From 1983-2001 he was a research scientist at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, becoming a Bell Laboratories Fellow in 1999. From 1991-2001 he served as Department Head of the Biological Computation Research Department. In 2001, he moved to Princeton University, becoming a founding Co-Director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute in 2005.  His research interests include the measurement, analysis, and modeling of neural circuit dynamics. At Bell Laboratories he contributed to the development of attractor network models of neural decision-making, the development of functional MRI imaging, and the development of cellular resolution optical imaging of neural dynamics. More recently, his work has focused on the mechanisms of persistent neural activity and the development and application of rodent virtual reality systems large-scale optical recording and electrophysiology to study neural circuit dynamics during navigation.

Dr. Tank has received several awards and honors for his research including election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a recipient of the W. Alden Spencer Award from Columbia University, the Lawrence Katz Prize from Duke University, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award in basic medical research, the Brain Prize, and the  Karl Lashley Prize.