Job ID: 116571
Doctoral position in sensorimotor/cognitive neuroscience
Position: Ph.D. Student
Deadline: 31 December 2023
Employment Start Date: 1 January 2024
Contract Length: 3 years
Institution: Eberhard Karls University, Center for Integrative Neuroscience
Department: Systems Neurophysiology
The nature of sensory gating – probing the function of a corticofugal loop.
The brain is assumed to contain many predictive systems spanning the enormous functional range from simple sensorimotor interactions to conscious planning. It is a challenge to delineate predictive systems, as they are related to highly plastic brain structures that co-evolved and tend to be highly interconnected (e.g. neocortex vs. cerebellum). The challenge, however, is worth to be tackled, as dysfunction of one predictive system, could in principle be alleviated by furthering another one with overlapping function.
The classical description of sensory gating (SG) has been that planning and execution of body movement leads to modulation of peripheral sensory signal flow. This description already assumes a role for feedback signals sent from central to peripheral processing stations, and it points to a possible role of SG as a predictive system.
The goal of the project is firstly to demonstrate the separation of SG from other predictive systems. Second, we attempt to explain its elusive behavioral function. Third we plan to elucidate its neuronal mechanisms, involving a corticobulbar loop, with which peripheral sensory signals are brought under top-down control.
We will use electrophysiological and optogenetic interrogation in behaviorally trained head-fixed mice. Paw reach and reward expectation tasks will be employed.
The doctoral student will learn and apply state of the art techniques of systems and cognitive neuroscience:
- Mouse sensorimotor/cognitive behavior
- Multielectrode electrophysiology
- Cell-specific optogenetic manipulation
The project is funded by the German Research Council (DFG) and will start in winter 2023/24.