Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon Portugal
Abstract: Olfaction is essential for the survival of living beings from unicellular organisms to mammals and is used for a wide range of natural behaviors. Rodents use odors in their environment to forage and navigate. To support these flexible behaviors, the brain seamlessly and dynamically integrates odor information with an internal model of the spatial environment. I am interested in how interconnected circuits in the brain for odor representation and spatial cognition interact to generate such behaviors. I will discuss my work examining synapses and circuits in primary olfactory (piriform) cortex (PCx) which make it an excellent site to investigate associative olfactory processes. I will also describe my work using neural ensemble recordings in freely moving rats performing an odor-cued spatial choice task, where I show that posterior piriform cortex neurons carry a robust spatial representation of the environment. Here, ensembles of piriform neurons concurrently represented odor identity as well as spatial locations of animals, forming an odor-place map. These results reveal a novel function for piriform cortex in spatial cognition, and importantly, provide a unique opportunity to understand the neural computations and organizing principles for computations critical for cognitive and behavioral flexibility.
Host: Beth Buffalo
The department of Physiology & Biophysics acknowledges the Coast Salish peoples of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations. It is in this land where we work, teach, and learn.