The difference between an expert's brain and a novice's
When mice learn to do a new task,
their brain activities change over time as they advance from 'novice' to
'expert.' The changes are reflected in the wiring of cell circuits and
activities of neurons.
a two-photon imaging microscope and a wealth of genetic tools, researchers from
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Columbia University, University College
London, and Flatiron Institute found that neural networks become more focused
as mice got better at performing a trained task. They used the data to
construct computational models that can inform their understanding of the
neuroscience behind decision-making.
recorded the activity from hundreds of neurons all at the same time, and
studied what the neurons did over learning," said CSHL Associate Professor
Anne Churchland. "Nobody really knew how animals or humans learn the
structure of a task and how the neural activity supports that."
team, including Farzaneh Najafi, the first author on the study and a
postdoctoral fellow in Churchland's lab, started by training mice on perceptual
decision-making tasks. The mice received multisensory stimuli in the form of a
sequence of clicks and flashes that were presented together. Their job was to
tell researchers whether those are happening at a high or low rate by licking
one of three waterspouts in front of them.