Top-down regulation of adaptive sensorimotor control

Monday 15 May 2023, 12:30 pm
PhD student
Y. Zhang
prof. dr. T. Celikel
dr. F. Zeldenrust

Top-down regulation of sensory information processing is critical for sensory neurons to construct an internal representation of the external world and adapt these representations based on prior experience, goals and expectations. In this thesis, we have focused on the role of serotonin and dopamine in controlling sensory processing in the primary somatosensory cortex and in the whisker system. To do so, we have first developed a robotic animal trainer to train animals on a tactile object localization task. Using this high-throughput approach to behavioral neuroscience, we have shown that serotonergic regulation during development controls integration of sensory information; even transient intervention with the serotonergic signalling during development alters spatiotemporal integration of information in adulthood. Neuromodulatory control over sensory processing is not specific to serotonin, as dopamine powerfully controls the action potential threshold, information transfer in single neurons and integration of sensory information at the network and behavioural level. These results combined with the new tools, including all wireless remote control of neural activity in a magnetic field, that will allow targeted control of bottom-up sensory information flow will help to systematically dissect the contribution of any neuromodulator to sensation and perception. 

Yiping Zhang was born on November 15th 1989 in Lishu County, Jilin Province, China. From 2008 to 2015, he was awarded Bachelor and Master degree by Northeast Normal University. At the same time, he obtained a Bachelor of Management degree from Jilin University by self-taught. In 2015 Yiping got the scholarship from CSC and come to Netherlands. In Radboud, Yiping was supervised by prof. Tansu Celikel and tried to decode sensorimotor integration with electrophysiology method at department of neurophysiology. After four years of PhD period, Yiping shortly worked for Prof. Mike X Cohen as a research assistant to complete the ongoing experiments. At July of 2020, Yiping joined Liya Ma's group as postdoc to explore the neuronal basis of flexibility at department of biophysics.