Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents
Systematic cortical representations for olfaction and action
Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of NeurobiologyHarvard University
Host: Nirao Shah
The brain composes complex patterns of adaptive behavior that vary on a moment-to-moment basis. The Datta lab seeks to understand how sensory and motor systems collaborate to build meaningful patterns of action. Here we discuss recent results relevant to understanding sensorimotor coupling in the olfactory system. We describe experiments that combine chemoinformatics, volumetric population imaging in awake mice and behavioral analysis to define odor codes in piriform cortex, the main cortical center devoted to olfaction in the mammalian brain. Our findings suggest mechanisms through which the sensory periphery and cortex cooperate to create systematic representations of the olfactory world, and a means by which the olfactory system can link chemically-related odors to similar behaviors and perceptual qualities both within and across individuals. We also describe a new behavioral analysis approach (Motion Sequencing, or “MoSeq”) that combines 3D imaging with model-based unsupervised learning to reveal the underlying structure of mouse body language. We have recently rendered MoSeq compatible with physiological recordings; these experiments have identified key neural loci that code for action components and sequences. MoSeq can therefore serve as a quantitative lens for understanding how fluctuating sensory cues (including odors) influence the composition and content of naturalistic behaviors.