Dr. Vikaas Sohal, Cerebellum Group, Department of Biology, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris; Departments of Statistics and Neurobiology, University of Chicago, US
During tasks in which subjects must make choices in order to obtain rewards, dopamine is believed to transmit signals to the prefrontal cortex about the outcomes of previous choices. The prefrontal cortex in turn, uses this information to either maintain successful strategies, or, when the current strategy has not been successful, adapt behavior in order to improve subsequent performance. Abnormalities in this process are believed to contribute to cognitive deficits in a variety of disorders including schizophrenia. I will describe experiments in which we have activated dopaminergic afferents using various patterns of optogenetic stimulation, in order test competing hypotheses about the relationship between dopaminergic input to the prefrontal cortex and cognitive flexibility.