University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Brett Gibson, Department of Psychology
An Investigation of Oscillatory Activity of Neurons Within Mediodorsal Nucleus During a Spatial Working Memory Task
Cognitive processes including spatial memory, attention and goal directed behavior require effective communication between areas of cortex as well as between cortex and thalamus. Studies have uncovered reciprocal anatomical links between mediodorsal nucleus (MD), located within the thalamus, and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). The resulting cortico-thalamo-cortical network allows for areas of the cortex to communicate indirectly via MD. This indirect route may allow MD a modulatory role in the transmission of information between areas of cortex. Synchronous neural activity facilitates proper communication. Thus, by altering synchrony such that communication is attenuated or strengthened, MD may be able to direct information across cortex based on behavioral demands. Using new methods, raw data collected during a previous study will be analyzed to inform the interaction between MD and mPFC. First, activity within MD will be evaluated to determine frequency and power throughout the task and during events of the task. Next, the relationship of network oscillatory activity and individual neuronal spiking activity will be investigated. We expect that MD, undisrupted, will display oscillatory activity within delta and gamma frequencies and that such frequencies will be disrupted when the area is inactivated. Additionally, we expect power and frequency to change throughout events of the task. Lastly, it is expected that oscillatory activity will drive neural spiking.