Institutt for informatikk
Instituttseminar 8. oktober 2020

Neural circuit computations in zebrafish brain



The Yaksi Lab at the Kavli Institute is an interdisciplinary group of life scientists, engineers, clinicians and physicists, combining approaches from multiple disciplines to understand how our brains are wired, function, and how they may fail in neurological diseases. Our core interest is to understand how sensory information interacts with the internally generated dynamics of the brain, representing animals’ behavioral states or emotions. To achieve this, we image neural activity from thousands of individual neurons in behaving animals and try to interpret these huge neural data sets by using simple applied mathematics. We also perturb neural circuit activity by using genetic and optical methods, in a way similar to systems identification approaches in engineering.

We focus on habenula, a conserved brain region associated with predicting potential outcomes, learning and mood disorders. We revealed that habenula act as a major hub integrating sensory information with the internal dynamics of the brain. We showed that different subnetworks of this circuitry are born during distinct developmental stages and serve different functions. Finally, we showed that perturbation of these circuits interferes with the animals’ ability to integrate new information during learning.

I hope that we can use this seminar as a way to build bridges between our brain research and the AI community in Bergen. I will try to present some of our results, to initiate discussion about possible collaborations.