Success often depends on inspired choices between risk-taking for exciting achievements or perseverance with safe, incremental advancements. In this project we aim to discover neuronal firing patterns triggering such inspired decisions based on internal valuations of probabilistic evidence. We will train rodents to perform a modified-Iowa-gambling-task, successfully adjusting choices between certain-small, or possible-big rewards with changing long-term advantages. Recently (Passecker et al., 2019), we have discovered a subset of specialized neurons in the prelimbic subdivision (PL) of medial PFC, whose firing predict the subsequent decision of the animal, even for unlikely choices.
During this project, we will perform juxtacellular recording and labelling of these neurons to determine their cellular identity and axonal projections, we will manipulate neuronal activity during the gambling task and we will develop computational models to explain the network dynamics underlying choices during gambling and dynamically adjusting decisions based on internal valuations. This project provides a link between the role of identified individual neurons and large scale cellular assemblies for flexible decision making the FOR 5159 consortium.