We study the remarkable ability of humans and animals to learn and master complex tasks. This happens through an intricate interplay of new experiences and existing knowledge in the brain.
For any new task, many rounds of trial and error are typically needed before we acquire all insights required to complete it. Intermediate successes (rewards) or failures (punishments) give us feedback to modulate and improve our performance, but we also draw on memories of prior experiences and their outcomes, anticipating future results, evaluating potential actions, and so on.
Parts of learning occur during periods of rest or sleep. We use a multi-pronged approach to probe spontaneous reactivation of experience during rest and sleep. This approach allows us to combine well-characterized behavioral tasks that test specific mnemonic abilities with a detailed description of neural circuit activity across the brain.
We want to causally link neural activation patterns to the learning of spatial navigation tasks
Our goal is to demonstrate the contribution of awake replay to learning in a battery of behavioral paradigms that focus on separate components of learning. By comparing multiple behavioral tasks with non- or partially overlapping requirements, we will be able to specify where and when the replay events contribute to learning.
We aim to reveal how neural reactivation processes are coordinated across cortical networks
We will dissect how the brain’s reactivation processes are coordinated across cortical and subcortical circuits and determine whether the coordination is instrumental in spatial learning and memory consolidation.