Agostina Palmigiano is a Swartz Fellow at the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, working in the lab of Dr. Ken Miller. She studied physics in the University of Buenos Aires, and was a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization with Dr. Fred Wolf. Her research involves the development of mathematically tractable models with biological fidelity to investigate the mechanisms underlying sensory representations and how they are shaped by and in conjunction with behavior.
“The functional design of cortical inhibition in space and time”
Animals use their senses to guide their actions, continually updating their internal model of the world. It seems natural to assume that somewhere in the brain, information about the environment and information about the animal’s own movement are integrated. Surprisingly, in the mouse brain, information about the animal’s behavior is also present in areas classically thought to only process visual information. Why are behavioral signals in the visual system? How are these signals being used? Do they interfere with vision? We plan to build mathematically tractable recurrent network models with spatiotemporal fidelity and parameters inferred from data. These models will allow us to investigate how different cell types dynamically interact to jointly process visual and behavioral information. We will specifically investigate how the representation of sensory information is affected by behavioral signals, whether those signals are used for prediction of the visual landscape, and, if sensory areas process information independently of movement signals in specific contexts, how that computation is implemented by the cortical circuitry.