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Patterns Matter: Temporal Codes in Neural Signaling, Synaptic Plasticity, and Behavior

Masashi Tabuchi, Ph.D.

Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience Faculty Recruitment Seminar   

Masashi Tabuchi, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Johns Hopkins University

  • November 13, 2018
  • 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Fralin Auditorium

There is substantial evidence supporting the classical view that neurons use rate coding (frequency of firing). In contrast, although different temporal codes (pattern or timing of firing) have been observed to correlate with distinct sensory stimuli, evidence demonstrating a causal role for temporal coding in information processing and behavior is lacking. Thus, the function and physiological relevance of temporal coding in neural signaling and behavior remain controversial. Here, I demonstrate that temporal coding alone can signify a specific internal state to control a behavioral output. I also address how temporal coding in a circadian circuit alters sleep/wake behavior, by characterizing effects on a downstream arousal circuit. I show that temporal code in the upstream clock neurons induces a dramatic increase in the firing rate of the downstream arousal circuit. Remarkably, this involves synaptic plasticity that depends solely on the spiking pattern. These data represent the synaptic plasticity being directly induced by changes in the pattern, but not the rate or timing, of neuronal firing. In this seminar, I will further talk about how different temporal codes alter sleep/wake behavior.

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For more information, contact Jonathan Hedrick