Building a flexible sensory cortex: Function and dysfunction

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Animals adapt their behaviour in response to variable changes in reward reinforcement. The prefrontal areas of the mammalian neocortex, especially the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), play an important role in invoking rule-based strategies to enable flexible learning. However, the neural circuit mechanisms in OFC and its hierarchical interactions with sensory areas underlying such processes remain elusive. In my talk, using a tactile reversal-learning task in mice, I will discuss cellular and circuit interactions between orbitofrontal and somatosensory cortices that guide flexible tactile decision-making. I will also present data on how flexible behaviour and feedback regulation of sensory processing is disrupted in animal models of autism spectrum disorders.