Learned information is not encoded in isolation, but is integrated within a network of preexisting knowledge stored in patterns of neuronal ensemble functional connectivity. Our immediate goal is to investigate:
- How these patterns emerge and develop
- How are they utilized in behavior
- How are they disrupted in neuropsychiatric diseases
The hippocampus, a brain structure initially implicated in rapid learning and formation of episodic memory, is now recognized to encode internally-generated spatial-temporal sequence representations. Its dysfunctions have resulted in anterograde amnesia, impaired imagining of new experiences, and hallucinations. Achieving our goal will be facilitated by our use of electrophysiological recordings of ensembles of neurons in behaving mice and rats, optogenetic manipulation of neurons, optical imaging of neuronal ensembles, and computational methods for decoding neuronal population activity.