Hernando Martinez Vergara
Hernando Martinez Vergara is highly interested in how animals are capable of adjusting their behaviour to specific situations. In particular, somewhere in the brain, information related to movement, context, and outcome evaluation should coincide so that learning can occur. Additionally, that area should be able to bias future behavioural decisions based on past experience. The striatum is an ideal brain area for this to happen, as it integrates reward prediction signals from dopaminergic areas, influences behaviour through the basal ganglia, and receives dense topological inputs from the cortex. Cortico-striatal projections are known to be important for learning, but the contributions of different cortical neurons in relation to striatal learning has never been shown. Hernando is using optogenetics, 2-photon imaging, electrophysiology and molecular classification of cell classes to dissociate the role during reinforcement learning of specific neurons in cortex.