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Pasternak Lab

Cortical Circuitry Underlying Memory-Guided Sensory Decisions

As we interact with our environment, the features of objects in the visual scene are not consistently present on the retina and sensory cues used to guide visual behavior are not always available. Thus, active observers are faced with a ubiquitous task of comparing stimuli across time and space. Our research program is aimed at examining the cortical circuitry underlying successful execution of sensory comparison tasks that involve visual motion. Such tasks require processing and storage of the initial stimulus, followed by its retrieval and comparison to the current stimulus, the process that leads to the perceptual decision. The mechanisms underlying such tasks are likely to involve brain regions that process and store sensory stimuli as well as regions that control visual attention and are capable of coordinating processes involving bottom-up sensory information and top-down cognitive signals.

MT-PFCTo examine these mechanisms, we record neuronal activity of large populations of neurons the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and in the motion processing area MT in non-human primates during memory-guided sensory comparison tasks. Our goal is to identify neural codes and network dynamics that underlie memory and comparison processes during these tasks. An important component of the work is active collaboration with computational neuroscientists and developing models aimed at mechanisms underlying maintenance and utilization of visual information in perceptual decisions.

Our studies of the way prefrontal neurons represent and utilize sensory signals and interact with neurons processing visual information during memory-guided motion comparisons have important implications for elucidating the basis of cognitive dysfunction in mental disorders associated with deficits in sensory working memory and impaired prefrontal function.

Tatiana Pasternak, Ph.D.

Tatiana Pasternak, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator



      1. Pasternak T
      2. Foster A
      3. Wong K
      4. Conley M
      Unilateral inactivation of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) affects the retention of contralateral spatial and motion information. (in preparation); . 2019 Jan 01.
      1. Islam MN
      2. Samu DA
      3. Pasternak T
      Inactivation of posterior prefrontal cortex affects processing of visual motion in area MT during motion comparisons. (in preparation); . 2019 Jan 01.
      1. Islam MN
      2. Wimmer KA
      3. Pasternak T
      Memory-related and anticipatory signals in area MT during comparisons of visual motion are determined by task demands. (in preparation); . 2019 Jan 01.
      1. Wimmer K
      2. Spinelli P
      3. Pasternak T
      Prefrontal Neurons Represent Motion Signals from Across the Visual Field But for Memory-Guided Comparisons Depend on Neurons Providing These Signals.; The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience; Vol 36(36). 2016 Sep 7.

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    Contact Us

      Pasternak Lab
    Univ. Rochester Medical Center
    Dept. Neuroscience
    601 Elmwood Ave
    Box 603
    Rochester, NY 14642