UTSA Alamo CIMA Mentor
Dr. Alfonso Apicella
Revealing the Cortical Mechanisms of Auditory Goal-Directed Behaviors
Attention remains a neurobiological mystery. Every day, we perceive a barrage of stimuli from the external world. Amazingly, despite this incomprehensible amount of information, animals determine which stimuli they will act upon (e.g., running toward the sound of a prey or running away from the sound of a predator). Such goal-directed behaviors are crucial dynamic links between sensory stimuli and motor actions. The overall goal of this proposal is to investigate how projections from the region of the brain called the posterior parietal cortex to the auditory cortex that influence neuronal activity in the sensory auditory pathway and their implications in abnormal circuitry organization in neurodevelopmental disorder. We will use optogenetic and pharmacological approaches in our research to turn neurons 'ON' and 'OFF'. In doing so, we can observe and manipulate specific subsets of neurons at multiple levels: in slice preparations in vitro, and in anesthetized or awake, behaving animals in vivo. This approach allows us to quantitatively determine how specific subsets of neurons contribute to sensory processing and behavior.