Biomedical Engineering

New approaches to probe computations in neural circuits with all-optical technology

March 27, 2018

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET

Doherty Hall A302

Christopher Harvey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology
Department of Neurobiology
Harvard Medical School


My lab studies how the mouse cortex performs the computations necessary for flexible sensorimotor decision-making during navigation. I will review our recent progress in understanding emergent properties in populations of neurons, in particular in the mouse posterior parietal cortex, to support navigation-based decision tasks. Our goal moving forward is to combine our understanding of neuronal population activity patterns with approaches to probe the underlying microcircuit-level mechanisms. We have recently developed a method based on two-photon imaging and two-photon optogenetics to measure the causal, functional connectivity in a population of neurons with characterized activity patterns and tuning. We call this method influence mapping – a measure of how one neuron’s spiking causally affects spiking in its neighbors. I will present recent work using influence mapping to reveal pattern decorrelation computations in layer 2/3 of visual cortex. I will also discuss applications of influence mapping to the study of computations for flexible sensorimotor decision-making.