Thesis defense Jan Klee (Donders series 433)
13 May 2020
Being able to make correct predictions about the availability of future rewards is fundamentally important but how do correct predictions get generated in brain circuits?
In order to find out, I recorded simultaneous electrophysiological single cell activity from the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of head fixed mice which had to learn that a predictive sound always signals the availability of a future reward. Using this approach, I was able to show that both brain areas are highly engaged in the development and maintenance of reward predictions. In addition, I found that cells that are particularly involved in this process get preferentially reactivated during rest periods during which both brain areas seem to replay task relevant patterns of activity.
In a second line of experiments, I recorded single cell activity from prefrontal cortex of mice that were genetically modified to express Alzheimer’s disease like symptoms. I found that single cell activity in these animals is generally impaired but can be substantially improved by using a novel treatment strategy based on the antiepileptic drug levetiracetam.