Date: Friday, April 12, 2019
Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Location: Simons Center Conference Room, Building 46, Room 6011, 6th Floor, MIT (43 Vassar Street, Cambridge, 02139 MA)
Speaker: Michael Halassa, M.D., Ph.D.
Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT.
Talk title: Frontothalamic interactions in cognitive control and flexibility
Abstract: Interactions between the cortex and thalamus are critical for sensation, action and cognition. However, most of our understanding of these interactions is in the context of sensory processing. My lab has focused on cortico-thalamic loops that are non-sensory, allowing us to discover new principles of thalamo-cortical interactions beyond sensory processing. In my talk, I will show how the thalamus plays previously unrecognized roles in implementing cognitive control and flexibility, which involve rapid reconfiguration of task-relevant prefrontal representations. I will give a few examples of this process, showing its generality across multiple species, and if time allows, discuss its relevance to disease processes.