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Upcoming Event

CANCELLED: Coding in the Gustatory Cortex: Tasting the Past, the Present, and the Future

  • May 21, 2024
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Carson Family Auditorium (CRC)

Event Details

Center for Studies in Physics and Biology Seminars
Alfredo Fontanini, Ph.D., professor and chair, department of neurobiology and behavior, Stony Brook University
Speaker bio(s)

Over the years, the gustatory cortex (GC) has established itself as an excellent model for studying how sensory cortices integrate coding of sensory and cognitive variables. In addition to encoding chemical stimuli that are present on the tongue and ascribing them to one of the five taste qualities, neurons in GC can also be activated in the absence of taste, either prospectively or retrospectively. Prospective activation of GC neurons occurs when crossmodal cues associated with taste predict the identity of upcoming tastants. Retrospective activation is observed when the memory of a gustatory stimulus is required to guide a specific action. Encoding of what precedes the tasting experience, what is present on the tongue, and what follows can occur within the same trial, facilitated by GC’s ability to represent signals through extended temporal dynamics. In this presentation, I will discuss findings demonstrating the involvement of GC in representing past, present and future events. Upon reviewing work on how anticipatory cues can engage GC and how this prospective activation can impact behavior, I will present results showing how GC transitions from encoding gustatory stimuli to using this information for generating preparatory activity. I will present electrophysiological and calcium imaging data from mice performing taste-based, two-alternative choice (2AC) tasks and show how time-varying patterns of population activity can account for multiplexing of sequential signals. Altogether, the presentation will provide an account of the integration of gustatory, anticipatory, and preparatory signals in GC, and point at open questions and future areas of investigation.

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