Cognition in the mouse brain: The brain is responsible for thinking, combining mental processes such as sensory integration, perception and working memory, grouped together under one broad definition: cognition. The holy grail of neuroscience is to understand how the brain encodes cognition, unifying many specific processes into a coherent intellect. The biggest obstacle in achieving this challenge is the complex nature of the brain, an extremely complicated organ containing billions of neurons entangled together forming a dynamic, ever-changing network. Even more overwhelming is the plastic and dynamic nature of the brain, constantly changing and forming new synapses, knowledge and experience. There are no two similar brains on earth, and even the same brain can give different outcomes to seemingly identical incoming stimuli.
Neuronal populations are multidimensional, merged in an eternal, ever-changing loop between the external and internal worlds. In the lab, we are interested in studying how the brain encodes cognition at the brain-wide level. We adopt a mesoscale approach in which we aim to simultaneously image as many brain areas as possible as mice perform complex behavioral tasks involving different cognitive function. Complementing the mesoscale approach, we use multi-area two-photon microscopy, optogenetics and labeling techniques to dissect the relevant neuronal sub-populations responsible for different cognitive functions. Our goal is to obtain a cognitive brain- wide map that will aid in understanding cognition as a whole in both the healthy and diseased brain.