Boyer Winters PhD, University of Guelph
Talk Title: Studying the Neural Bases of Crossmodal Cognition in Rodents
Brain & Behaviour Seminar Series 2014-2015
Reception to follow in the Psychology Lounge, room 4043, Sidney Smith Hall
Abstract: The mechanisms by which the brain integrates the unimodal sensory features of an object into a comprehensive multimodal object representation are poorly understood. In this talk, I will discuss our research using a novel rodent crossmodal object recognition paradigm based on modifications to the standard spontaneous object recognition memory task. This work has revealed for the first time that rats are capable of spontaneous crossmodal object recognition when they are asked to recognize a visually presented object having previously only explored the tactile features of that object. I will present recent findings from our lab regarding the neural circuitry underlying this complex ability. These studies indicate that crossmodal object recognition requires contributions from various interactive cortical brain regions and that these contributions change depending on the animal's past experience with a given object. I will also discuss results from a series of studies using our crossmodal object recognition paradigm to investigate cognitive impairment and remediation in the NMDA receptor hypofunction rat model of schizophrenia. Our early findings with this model indicate severe crossmodal cognitive deficits in these animals, consistent with recent reports of abnormal multisensory integration in patients with schizophrenia. Moreover, this impairment can be attenuated with various clinically relevant drugs, such as nicotine and antipsychotics. Our ongoing work with this new paradigm should continue to reveal important findings regarding the neural substrates of crossmodal cognition and may help to shed further light on the nature of multisensory deficits in human cognitive disorders characterized by widespread cortical dysfunction, such as schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer's disease.
For further information, contact: Kaori Takehara 416-978-6570 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephanie Tanninen 416-946-5540 (email@example.com)