Cortical circuit dynamics underlying mouse touch perception
Dr. O'Connor will discuss work from his laboratory using the mouse whisker system to explore the neural basis of touch perception. Recently they have probed the interactions among primary and secondary somatosensory cortices and begun to quantify how attention shapes tactile stimulus processing in this circuit. After the mechanical features of touch have been encoded into spikes and sent to the central nervous system, multiple factors determine the fate of these spikes and their impact on behavior. A major source of variability is the attentional state of the animal. He will discuss their ongoing investigations into how attention to touch---as opposed to vision---shapes processing of tactile stimuli in somatosensory cortex. He will also discuss work on the functional circuitry that mediates cortico-cortical interactions between primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, which may play a role in attentional modulation.