Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD
Department of Neurobiology
Harvard Medical School
Hosted by: Ahmad Jezzini, PhD
This talk will be presented in-person and via Zoom.
Webinar link: https://bit.ly/DoNSeminarSeries
Spontaneous behavior exhibits structure. Ethologists describing animals in the wild have long appreciated that naturalistic, self-motivated behavior is built from modules that are linked together over time into predictable sequences. And yet, it remains unclear how the brain regulates the selection of individual behavioral modules for expression at any given moment, or how it dynamically composes these modules into the fluid behaviors observed when animals act of their own volition, and in the absence of experimental restraint, task structure or explicit reward. Here we use novel methods for characterizing and manipulating behavior in freely-moving mice in real time to reveal that learning and variability interact to create the architecture of self-guided behavior. Our findings suggest a broad model in which the composition of spontaneous behavior from elemental components is supported by the same circuits and mechanisms that enable action selection in structured tasks.