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Title: Dendritic integration of sensory information in perceptual decision-making
Author: Groschner, Lukas
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 1798
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Perceptual decisions require the temporal integration of sensory evidence to a response threshold. How the brain performs this operation is unknown. In fruit flies, expression of the forkhead box P transcription factor (FoxP) in αβ core (αβc) Kenyon cells of the mushroom bodies influences decision times in odour discrimination tasks. Flies with a hypomorphic mutation in the FoxP locus take longer to commit to a choice than wild-type flies, especially in difficult tasks. Using calcium imaging and patch clamp electrophysiology in vivo, I investigate how FoxP shapes the biophysical properties of αβc neurons and link these properties to the flies' olfactory decision-making behaviour. I find that αβc Kenyon cells integrate individual odour-evoked synaptic inputs to action potential threshold at time scales matching the speed of olfactory discrimination. FoxP, by controlling the abundance of the voltage-gated potassium channel Shal (KV4) in αβc Kenyon cell dendrites, determines the integrative properties of these neurons and dictates decision times. Targeted expression of dominant-negative or functional Shal in αβc Kenyon cells is sufficient to correct or reproduce, respectively, the FoxP mutant phenotype. Subthreshold dynamics in membrane voltage thus have a previously unrecognised influence on temporal aspects of decision-making.
Supervisor: Miesenboeck, Gero Andreas Sponsor: Wellcome Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available