Neuronal basis of the adaptive control of behavior
The goal of the Laubach Laboratory is to understand the role of the frontal cortex and basal ganglia in value-based decision making, food-seeking behavior, and the cognitive and motivational control of action. A major focus of our work is cognitive aging. We wish to understand how aging can impair the brainís ability to make decisions and initiate actions. We are currently engaged in three projects. First, we are studying how errors influence neuronal activity to improve future task performance. Second, we are studying how the values of external stimuli, including rewards, are learned and flexibly tracked in dynamic and changing environments. Third, we are studying how working memory, based on persistent firing by neurons in the frontal cortex, is used to link together sequences of goal-directed actions. To study these issues, we use multi-electrode recording methods in awake, behaving rodents, methods for reversible inactivating brain regions (e.g., fluorescent muscimol), tract-tracing methods, and, most recently, optogenetic methods. We are also active in developing methods for decoding information expressed by neuronal spike activity and field potential signals, functionally imaging rodent brains based on fluorescence imaging of fluorescent drugs and optogenetic viruses, and combining cutting-edge optogenetic and classic tract-tracing methods to characterize anatomical connections of behaviorally characterized brain regions.
We are a core group in the Swartz Initiative for Theoretical and Systems Neuroscience at Yale*.
Our research is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, and the Klarman Family Foundation.