Georgia Tech Neuro Seminar Series
"Perception in Action: Neural Circuits for Active Auditory and Tactile Decision-making"
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Chris Rodgers, Ph.D.
Department of Neurosurgery
*Lunch provided for in-person attendees
Chris Rodgers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Emory University. He grew up in Kentucky and went to McGill University for his bachelor's in Electrical Engineering. His passion for neuroscience began when he first heard the sound of action potentials, recorded from a blowfly during an NSF summer research program at the University of Maryland. He completed a PhD in Neuroscience at Berkeley studying auditory and prefrontal cortex in a new rat model of selective attention. His postdoctoral work at Columbia showed how circuits in the somatosensory cortex enable mice to recognize shape. In 2022, Chris started his faculty position at Emory. His lab, the Perception and Action Lab, seeks to understand how sensory and motor brain regions work together during free behavior.
How do we explore and learn about our world? In nature, animals do not passively await stimuli, as they typically must do in the laboratory. Instead, they actively seek out sensory information—for instance, to find food or shelter. I will first present a summary of my postdoctoral work, which showed how mice recognize different shapes using their whiskers. We used a new method called behavioral decoding to show what sensorimotor strategies mice used to recognize shapes, and we identified an efficient formatting for those strategies in somatosensory cortex. Next, I will present new work from my own lab. We have developed an active sound-seeking task for mice, in which they use head and body movements to find sound sources. We hypothesize that sensory and motor brain regions exchange predictive signals to compute how best to move the body to localize the sound. In future work we plan to identify how central sensorimotor plasticity enables resilience to sensory loss, with the ultimate goal of rationally engineering neural interventions to restore healthy sensorimotor function.
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