Cognition Workshop 04/03/24: Pınar Toptas

Title: Long-Range Interactions between Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex via Beta Oscillations in Olfactory Rule-Reversal Learning

Pınar Toptas, doctoral student in the Yu Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago

Abstract: Everyday life requires animals to learn the associations between sensory cues and their outcomes to respond accurately given a context. For instance, while the fresh scent of roses in a nice flower bouquet triggers the response of smelling, the same scent in a rose-flavored dessert triggers the response of eating. How do brains learn a new behavioral response for a sensory cue (e.g. odors) that already has an associated response leading to desired outcome? Literature suggests that long-range communications between sensory cortices, prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus are essential for enabling complex olfactory associative memories and decision making related to them. Local-field potentials of these regions show high coherence in beta range (12-30 Hz) oscillations while animals engage in a familiar olfactory associative memory task. We want to expand this knowledge by investigating the role of beta coherence in learning novel sensory associations while still remembering the familiar associations. To investigate this question, we recorded neural activity from the medial pre-frontal cortex and the dorsal hippocampus regions of six rats as they practice novel and familiar olfactory association memory tasks. Behavioral data analysis identified different decision strategies which may point toward different states of task representations. Future analysis of this work aims to identify the nature of beta coherence across the ROI for these different clusters of task representations.

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