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Seminar: Prof Anne Churchland

October 19, 2018 @ 16:00 - 17:00

Movement-related activity dominates cortex during sensory-guided decision making 

Friday 19 October – 4pm at the Large Lecture Theatre, DPAG/Le Gros Clarke Bldg


The Cortex Club is thrilled to host Associate Prof Anne Churchland from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who will be talking to us about his research on neural circuits underlying decision-making. Please join us on October 19th at the Large Lecture Theatre, located in the Le Gros Clark Building of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics.


Prof. Anne Churchland has kindly agreed to meet students and staff individually. If you would like to arrange a meeting please contact Tai-Ying Lee (tai-ying.lee-at- dpag.ox.ac.uk).



An animal’s movements and internal state generate an “internal backdrop” of activity that is dynamically modulated. During behavior, this internal backdrop interacts with signals arising from incoming sensory stimuli and may have a substantial impact on task-related computations, like those underlying decision-making. To understand the joint effects of internal backdrop and task-imposed variables, we measured neural activity across the entire dorsal cortex of task-performing mice. We characterized internal backdrop using multiple measures of self-generated parameters including pupil diameter, whisking and body motion. Surprisingly, internal backdrop dominated neural activity across the entire cortex, dwarfing task-related variables and even sensory stimuli. Single neurons in frontal cortex were likewise dominated by internal backdrop. A linear model allowed us to account for multiple dimensions of internal backdrop and uncover hidden signatures of task-related activity. We show that complex, ongoing behavior fundamentally shapes neural activity throughout cortex and must be accounted for when studying decision-making.


October 19, 2018
16:00 - 17:00


Lecture Theatre, Le Gros Clark Building
Le Gros Clark Building
Oxford, OX1 3QX
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