MSTP in PhD Training
Current advisor: Adam Kepecs, PhD
Undergraduate university: Amherst College, 2016
Enrollment year: 2018
Connecting molecular, projection-based, and functional cell types in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex across behavioral contexts and tasks
I work in the laboratory of Adam Kepecs and study confidence and value-based decision-making in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. The OFC has historically been studied in the context of behavioral flexibility through reversal learning, in which the reward associated with a particular stimulus can be remapped to a different, previously unrewarded stimulus. More recently, our laboratory and others have found that the OFC has crucial roles in decision confidence in perceptual decision-making and encoding subjective value in economic decision-making. Despite the rich repertoire of behavioral studies of the OFC, there has not been much work characterizing the circuit architecture or functional role of molecular cell types in the OFC. I am will be using miniaturized head-mounted microscopes to perform longitudinal (weeks) calcium imaging in the rat OFC, perform unsupervised clustering of single neurons during multiple behavioral tasks, and develop methods to deorphan functional classes of neurons post-imaging with immunostains, in-situs, and spatial transcriptomics. This will allow a comprehensive understanding of how neurons in the OFC encode, how their responses evolve in the learning process, whether they cluster into algorithmic decision variables that govern task performance, how they generalize across different cognitive processes, and whether there is a coherent logic between their molecular and functional profile.