Danique Jeurissen, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Danique Jeurissen is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Michael Shadlen at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute. She studied biological psychology at both Maastricht University in the Netherlands and the University of California, Los Angeles, for her bachelor of science degree. For her master of science degree in cognitive neuroscience, she studied at Maastricht University and was also a research intern at Harvard Medical School. She did a research internship at the University of California, San Diego, before starting her Ph.D. research at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam. While there she worked with Pieter Roelfsema to study the neural basis of object perception in the primate visual system. Jeurissen is interested in understanding the neural basis of cognitive functions such as perception, memory and decision making. Her recent work revealed that causal manipulation of neural activity in the parietal cortex leads to impaired decision making. This impairment recovers at a fast time scale of minutes, and a slow time scales of many days, even though neural activity is still successfully silenced. Her future work aims to reveal the neural mechanisms of this behavioral recovery. Experimental methods include the use of optogenetics, chemogenetics and pharmacology to manipulate neural activity while recording neural activity from large populations of neurons across the brain.

Project: Compensation for cognitive deficits induced by cortical inactivation

When we make daily-life decisions, we can rely on any source of information. For example, when driving up to an intersection, we use information about the color of the traffic light to decide whether to cross. Just seconds later, we may use information about the motion of approaching cars to decide whether it is safe to make a left turn. In both cases, we rely on a network of brain areas involved in decision making, including frontal and parietal association areas. In the first case, sensory information for the decision is provided by color-sensitive neurons, while in the second case, sensory information is provided by motion-sensitive neurons. The anatomical connections between sensory areas and association areas are in place, but the brain needs to route the relevant information to association areas to meet behavioral demands. Past research has revealed the role of specialized brain areas in perception, decision making and action, but the mechanisms underlying flexible routing of information between these areas is largely unknown. The goal of my research is to understand how the flow of information between specialized brain areas changes to allow for the flexible behavior that is a hallmark of primate cognition. In particular, this project aims to reveal how the brain can flexibly adjust the flow of information when information processing in one area is disrupted. The approach is to combine sophisticated behavioral tasks with high-channel electrophysiology and viral-vector mediated causal manipulations of neural activity.

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