Systematic, Large-scale Optogenetics

Many cortical areas contribute to the successful performance of behavioral tasks, but their relative roles are poorly understood. In addition to recording the activity across areas with Neuropixels and with widefield calcium imaging, we are performing systematic optogenetic inactivations to address this question. In work with Peter Zatka-Haas, we use transgenic mice that express light-sensitive ion channels in inhibitory neurons in all parts of cortex. In this way, we can inactivate any area of cortex by shining a targeted laser beam to activate inhibitory neurons there. In combination with a precisely quantifiable perceptual decision-making task, and with inactivation timed to different phases of the task, we are investigating the roles of different cortical areas in behavior.

Top, inactivation locations across cortex. MOs, secondary motor cortex; VIS, visual cortex. Bottom, effects of inactivating each of 52 cortical sites on the performance of a perceptual decision-making task.