Xiao-Jing Wang PhD
Neural circuit function in the brain
Xiao-Jing Wang uses theoretical and modeling approaches to study how the brain works. He is especially interested in understanding the neural circuit basis of higher cognitive functions, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex. The working hypothesis is that reverberatory dynamics in strongly recurrent networks give rise to `cognitive-type' neural processes, such as persistent activity and competitive ramping activity, that instantiate working memory and decision making functions. Moreover, such a system endowed with reward-dependent learning may underlie adaptive and complex choice behavior. Other topics that have been covered by research in Wang’s group include the diversity of inhibitory cells in the cortex, synchronous oscillations, timing. Currently, in collaboration with experimentalists, they are pursuing biophysically realistic large-scale circuit models of spiking neurons, to elucidate general principles and cellular mechanisms of key cognitive processes such as working memory, decision making, selective attention, executive control, as well as their impairments associated with mental disorders.