Timing is everything: Tales from neural circuits and behavior
Stanley, Garrett B.
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Our sensory pathways extract information from the complex world within which we live, and help us to perceive relevant inputs, make decisions, and take action. Our laboratory has extensively investigated representations and transformations of sensory inputs in both vision and touch. We specifically focus on the thalamocortical circuitry that serves as an inflection point of complexity between the sensory periphery and the brain structures that underlie perception. One theme that emerges across this body of work is that of timing: signals that are relevant for extracting useful information from the outside world are gated through the regulation of the precise timing of spiking in this network that ultimately dictate how we detect and discriminate features of the sensory world. I will discuss this perspective across a range of past experimental and computational studies in vision and touch, as well as more recent unpublished work that utilizes a combination of experimental approaches to perturb and measure these phenomena. Finally, I will discuss very recent work regarding timing on longer timescales, specifically concerning the relative role of various brain structures during learning.