Topic: Dissecting the neural circuitry of attention control using freely behaving mouse model

Speaker: Dr. Wen-Kai You (游文愷) (Assistant Professor, National Defense Medical Center, Taiwan)

Time: 2024/04/12 (Fri) 13:10-15:00

Location: 801 Meeting room, Research and Teaching Building, SH Campus, Taipei Medical University


Attention is at the core of higher cognitive functions and its deficit has been associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADHD and schizophrenia. To study attention, experiments often require subjects to engage in complex behavioral tasks, therefore the vast majority of attention studies focuses on the primates (i.e., humans and monkeys). Consequently, the ethical and technical constraints associated with primate research become a major hurdle upon investigating the neurophysiological underpinnings of attention control. Mice, on the other hand, offer versatile genetic tools that allow us to dissect the neural circuitry and to precisely manipulate the activity of neuronal subpopulations to examine their functions in controlling behavior. Using a touchscreen interface, we trained mice to perform behavioral tasks mimicking those of human attention studies. We found mice exhibit behavioral signatures of attention similar to humans and thus could be a powerful model in studying attention. As an example, we virally targeted a subgroup of inhibitory neurons neighboring the superior colliculus (SC) of the midbrain. Selectively inactivating those inhibitory neurons induces behavioral manifestations resembling attention deficits (hyper-distractibility) in mice, while preserving the animals’ visual perception and motor abilities. Such cell-type specific manipulation and its impact on attentional behavior demonstrate the potential of mouse model in elucidating the circuit mechanisms of attention control.