Shrisha Rao Balappa

Study of the neural dynamics supporting internal spatial representations

Team: Neural networks for the representation of 3D environments

His background

April 2019 - present | CENTURI Postdoctoral fellow

2014 - 2018 | PhD - Phd, Université de Paris, Descartes, France

2011 - 2013 | MSc - Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany

2006 - 2010 | BSc - Electrical Engineering, VTU, India

About his postdoctoral project

Spatial navigation constitutes an essential ability for animal survival. It materializes into diverse strategies of exquisite complexity. The neural substrate for these behaviors is only very partially understood and is the subject of many recent studies. In rodents, for instance, it appears clearly that the bain stores internal representations of the environments, in the form of cognitive maps. For instance, neurons encoding the position of the animal, as well as their head direction with respect to the environment, have been characterized. Moreover, as the animal explores the environment, assemblies of cells are activated in sequence, whereby neurons are active in a reproducible temporal order.

It is not understood how these neural networks form and what are the circuit mechanisms that underlie their activities. Studying the development of these circuits and following the activity of the neurons at an early stage of animal development should shed light on the basic mechanisms that generate cognitive maps.

Moreover, increasing the diversity of the spatial spaces that animals explore (size or topological structure of the environments) should help in understanding the flexibility and capacity of the circuits to represent space.