Identifying the role of frontal thalamocortical interactions in decision making under uncertainty
The ability to resolve uncertainty is critical for optimizing choices and outcomes during decision making. While the prefrontal cortex is essential to convert incoming sensory inputs into cognitive control signals, real world sensory inputs are often associated with uncertainty (eg: noise). How the PFC handles such uncertainty currently remains unresolved. Recent studies in humans have shown that the engagement of the cognitive thalamus during decision making scales proportionately with the degree of uncertainty. Using a variety of circuit dissection and modelling approaches we are developing a mechanistic understanding of the thalamic signals and cell type specific microcircuits that regulate prefrontal activity in decision making under uncertainty. Such an endeavor is highly relevant for psychiatric disorders like Schizophrenia as structural and functional impairments of thalamocortical connectivity are known to be associated with impaired decision-making associated with this disorder. As such, thalamic modulation of PFC activity can be used as an access point for developing targeted therapeutics for Schizophrenia. (Arghya/Norman)
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