Neural circuit mechanisms for navigating to shelter during instinctive escape

5:00pm - 6:00pm
Via Zoom
Speakers Website
Prof. Tiago Branco

16:00 -16:50 Q&A PhD's, Postdoc's / 17:00-18:30 Lecture and Q&A / Abstract: When faced with predatorial threats the most adaptive action is to escape towards a shelter that offers long term protection against the attacker. Achieving this requires knowing where shelter is and using this knowledge to execute shelter-directed escape actions. Here we have investigated how information about shelter location is encoded in the mouse brain, and how this information is transmitted to neural circuits that control escape execution. We find that neurons in the retrosplenial cortex (RSP) and the lateral superior colliculus (lSC) specifically encode the angular distance to shelter in body-centered coordinates - the key variable for orienting and running along a direct vector to the shelter. Neurons in the RSP and lSC are monosynaptically connected and when this synapse is inactivated mice cannot find the shelter - escape is initiated, but the flight action is towards random places in the arena. These results identify a new circuit for representing instinctive goals and executing goal-directed actions during defensive behavior.


Zhenyu Gao