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How recent experiences affect neural activity and decision-making

PhD defence, Monday 18 November 2019. Junior Samuel López-Yépez

2019.11.18 | Sunitha Satkunam

Junior Samuel López-Yépez

During his studies, Junior Samuel López-Yépez researched how past choices and past water rewards affect the decisions of mice, and how this is represented in neural activity. Animals need to integrate past experiences in order to predict the outcomes of their choices, and then, take the proper decisions to maximize valuable resources for them in uncertain environments.  By analyzing the behaviour of different species and virtual ideal agents facing a probabilistic task, Junior defines algorithmically an observed common strategy and its advantages in various scenarios. Furthermore, by carefully analysing neural recordings of mouse brains, Junior describes how the activity of cortical and dopamine neurons is affected by upcoming and previous rewards and choices. The new research findings contributes to understand the importance of recent rewards and choices to maximize valuable resources and to have a new perspective in how cortical and dopamine neurons represent this information.

The PhD degree was completed at the Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience (DANDRITE) and the Department of Chemistry, Science and Technology, Aarhus University.

The PhD student prepared this résumé.

Time: Monday 18 November 2019 at 10.00
Place: Building 1110, room 223, Bioinformatics Research Center, Aarhus University
Title of dissertation: Decisions and their neural representations in habitats with relative diminishing returns
Contact information: Junior Samuel López-Yépez, e-mail: junior@dandrite.au.dk, junior@chem.au.dk, tel.: +45 2896 2024
Members of the assessment committee: 
Professor Naoshige Uchida, Center for Brain Science, Harvard University, USA
Group Leader Armin Lak, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, UK
Associate Professor Thomas Poulsen (chair), Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University
Main supervisor: 
Professor Henrik Stapelfeldt, Department of Chemistry, Aarhus University
Co-supervisor: 
Group Leader Duda Kvitsiani, DANDRITE, Aarhus University Munkegade 120, building 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.
Language: The PhD dissertation will be defended in English

The defence is public.
The PhD thesis is available for reading at the Graduate School of Science and Technology/GSST, Ny Munkegade 120, building 1521, 8000 Aarhus C.

PhD defence
12183 / i43