Optogenetic Control in Freely Behaving Bats (Rousettus Aegyptiacus)

Justin Baik : Physics

Mentor: Michael Yartsev, Bioengineering

How does the brain convert sensory information to help us navigate around space? Spatial learning is what Justin believes to be the key in building the bridge between sensory input and navigation. The striatum, a region of the mammalian brain known to be crucial for spatial learning, will be deeply examined using the methods of optogenetics. In his project, Justin will be building methods to optically control striatal regions of freely behaving bats, and examine the neural circuitry that allows their sophisticated navigation around complex environments to be made possible. Justin’s goal is to make this examination wireless and to record neural activities from the bats in their free conditions. The findings from this project will give insights into how sensory details lead to spatial habit formation.