The many layers of touch – Randy Bruno

November 14, 2019|12:00pm

Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents

Randy Bruno, PhD


Associate Professor,
Department of Neuroscience,
Columbia University

Host: Lu Chen


The neocortex mediates all of human and animal cognition—breathtakingly encompassing sensation, perception, decision making, and movement. These diverse functions are achieved by highly stereotyped circuitry that nature appears to have iterated across the entire surface of the brain. Recently we discovered that ascending signals from thalamus are copied separately to the superficial and deep layers of sensory cortex. Despite dense connections between layers, ascending thalamic signals account for all the sensory-driven activity of the deep layers. I will present our latest anatomical and physiological results demonstrating independence of these two sets of layers as well as possible mechanisms for gating their interactions. We are presently investigating the necessity of the primary somatosensory cortex and its constituent layers in tactile object recognition. I will show how modern optogenetic and older lesion approaches can lead to radically different conclusions about the necessity of a brain structure to behavior. We have found that sensory cortex is dispensable for learning and performing some of the field’s most widely used behavioral paradigms. This underscores the competency of subcortical systems at basic behavioral tasks and suggests alternative mechanisms for how cortex contributes to complex behavior.

Full event information:

Map URL:

Location: Clark Center Auditorium

Contact Email:

Contact Phone: 650-723-3573