Loren Frank, University of California, San Francisco

Professor, HHMI, Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, Department of Physiology

"Neural substrates of hypothetical experiences"
Supported by the Amy C. Kern and John M. Goldsmith ‘85 Fund for Neuroscience
Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 12:15pm
Hosted by: 
Carlos Brody
Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Neuroscience Seminar Series
The ability to use experience to guide behavior (to learn) is one of the most remarkable abilities of the brain. Our goal is to understand how activity and plasticity in neural circuits underlie both learning and the ability to use learned information to make decisions. In this talk I will focus on neural activity patterns that have the potential to play a central role in memory-guided decision-making. This work began with the realization that the ability to generate and evaluate representations of hypothetical experience, whether of a counterfactual past or of a possible future, has profound adaptive value. How and when the brain might express these representations has not been clear, however, and I will describe work from my laboratory that has identified and characterized these representations as a surprisingly common motif in hippocampal spiking activity. I will also describe parallel technology development that aims to help us understand how these patterns engage distributed circuits across the brain.