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PhD Transfer Exam – Matthew Tran (Richards lab)

February 4, 2016 @ 12:10 pm - 1:10 pm

PhD Transfer Exam

Thursday February 4th, 12:10 pm – Room 432, Ramsay Wright Building, University of Toronto

Matthew Tran (Richards lab)

Illuminating the Multisensory Circuit within the Superior Colliculus

Abstract    (Please note there are revisions in text from previous poster)

An often underappreciated capability of the brain is its ability to bind information from different senses to create a vibrant and comprehensive picture of the outside world. Known as multisensory integration (MSI), this ability to combine inputs from multiple sensory modalities is vital for the proper interaction of an organism with its environment. Computational research aimed at understanding the neural calculations required for MSI, has proposed that divisive normalization, mediated by distinct pools of multisensory neurons, can explain many features of MSI. Interestingly, the superior colliculus (SC), a midbrain structure vital for MSI, has been shown to contain a wide variety of cell types with unique morphological, molecular and electrical properties. However, work aimed at understanding how this cellular diversity can account for the computational principles required for MSI, has been extremely limited.  The objective of my PhD thesis will be to ascertain whether the SC’s different cellular populations exhibit distinct MSI properties that map onto the functional sub-groups as proposed by the divisive normalization model. Through the use of optogenetics, patch clamp electrophysiology and in vivo two-photon imaging this work could provide a vital link between theoretical computations believed to be critical for multisensory integration and the neurophysiology that underpins them. More fundamentally, by taking this approach to studying neural circuits, we may be able to validate the existence of divisive normalization (a canonical neural computation) in the SC, and thus better understand how the brain uses multisensory information to operate within and encode the world around us.
Ramsay Wright is a wheelchair accessible building.




February 4, 2016
12:10 pm - 1:10 pm
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Ramsay Wright Building, Room 432
25 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5 Canada