Thursday, February 15 | 10:00 AM
Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, 218
6760 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA
Presenting on "Using electrophysiology to unravel circuits of visuomotor behavior for the study, diagnosis, and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders".
Isabel Vanegas, PhD, postdoctoral research associate in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine, will speak on February 15, 2024 at 10:00 am CT in Whitaker 218.
My research focuses on understanding neuronal mechanisms underlying visual dysfunction with a particular interest in the circuity governing visually-guided behavior and visual abnormalities in Parkinson’s disease (PD). As a biomedical engineer working at the intersection of engineering, neuroscience, and medicine, I employ multimodal electrophysiological approaches in both humans and animals, combining visual neuroscience, behavioral analysis, and computational methods to understand and assess brain activity governing sensory-motor behavior. My ultimate goal is to develop innovative neurophysiology-based diagnostics and treatments to directly target neurological symptoms linked to deficits in the circuitry of visually-guided behavior.
In this talk, I will present my research findings highlighting the intricate relationship between dopamine activity and visual processing. First, PD patients exhibit larger visual responses undergoing an exaggerated spatiotemporal adaptation, embedded within a greater background noise level. Second, prefrontal activity regulates visual sensory processing by sharpening the spatial tuning of visual neurons. In the absence of prefrontal activity, both spontaneous and visually-evoked neuronal responses increase, and visual receptive fields expand, leading to a loss of spatial information. Third, analyses of behavior, neural activity, and synchrony between prefrontal and visual areas during visual attention, highlight the key role of prefrontal dopamine in the locking of prefrontal and visual oscillatory phases and predicting performance during visually-guided behavior.
Overall, my findings provide valuable insights that contribute to the development of innovative neuromodulation approaches, particularly those grounded in neural synchrony between brain areas, aiming to directly target visual abnormalities and neurological symptoms associated with deficits in the circuitry of visually-guided behavior.