Luca Mazzucato: Neural mechanisms generating temporal variability in naturalistic behavior and cortical activity

University of Oregon


Naturalistic animal behavior exhibits a striking amount of variability in the temporal domain along at least three independent axes: across-repetitions, contextual, and hierarchical. First, self-initiated actions exhibit large variability across repetitions, with right-skewed distribution of action timing. Second, action timing can be modulated by changes in context, of either internal (neuromodulatory, state-dependent) or external origin. Third, a vast hierarchy of timescales links movements into behavioral sequences and long-term activities, from milliseconds to minutes. What are the neural mechanisms generating variability with such complex temporal features? We will present recent work from our lab establishing the foundation of a mechanistic theory of temporal variability, based on metastable attractors in cortical circuits. We will show how variable action timing, its contextual modulations, and a hierarchy of timescales naturally emerge from the properties of metastable attractors observed in premotor and sensory areas. Our results will highlight the central mechanistic role played by heterogeneities of cortical architecture and of top-down projections in generating the observed temporal variability.


This talk will be in presence. Guests are welcome!


Organized by

Tilo Schwalger / Margret Franke

After the talk we will celebrate our graduates and have the BCCN Berlin Christmas Party.

Location: BCCN Berlin, lecture hall, Philippstr. 13 Haus 6, 10115 Berlin

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