Memory-guided navigation is a fundamental cognitive process relying on a mental representation of our current and estimated future location. The focus of my lab’s research is on investigating the neural mechanisms underlying memory-guided navigation, including the role of cholinergic modulation and sensory inputs in the formation of episodic memory. Towards that end, we use chronic implants of microwires to study the activity of single neurons in freely behaving mice. We further use optogenetics to causally probe neural circuits, fiber photometry to image cholinergic activity, and mathematical and computational models to analyze our experimental data.
■ Project One: This project investigates temporal dynamics in cholinergic activity as a function of sensory inputs. We use fiber photometry in freely behaving mice to monitor cholinergic activity in the medial entorhinal cortex during temporally precise manipulation of visual, auditory, and olfactory cues.
■ Project Two: This project studies the temporal dynamics in the formation of a cognitive map represented by grid cells in the medial entorhinal cortex as a function of sensory inputs. Towards this aim, we will record grid cells in freely behaving mice.
■ Project Three: This project tests if cholinergic modulation is necessary for grid cell firing. This project uses optogenetic manipulation of cholinergic projection neurons in combination with grid cell recordings in the medial entorhinal cortex.
■ Dannenberg, H. et al. (2019). The firing rate speed code of entorhinal speed cells differs across behaviorally relevant time scales and does not depend on medial septum inputs. J. Neurosci., 1450-18.
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