Abstract: Oscillations in cortical circuits are implicated in a wide variety of cognitive functions including the enhancement of sensory stimuli, maintaining focus, filtering potential distractors, and augmenting communication between connected networks. However, the mechanisms that support oscillation generation and mechanisms of how cortical networks utilize oscillations to promote these specific functions is not well understood. I will describe work from our group across multiple tasks that reveal gamma oscillations in prefrontal networks promote reinforcement learning and that multiregional coordination at alpha/beta frequencies contributes to cognitive flexibility. Finally, I will discuss recent work with collaborators at UIUC showing that oscillations become entrained to attended auditory features and that this attentional representation can be spatially directed to enhance sound localization in complex auditory environments.
Biography: Howard Gritton received his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2012. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Biosciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to starting his faculty position at Illinois, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Boston University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His lab is motivated to reveal the molecular and circuit mechanisms that promote neural network interactions during periods of learning, cognitive control, and selective attention. This includes several projects designed to identify sources of cognitive control and the process by which neuromodulators organize cell classes to both elevate relevant sensory cues and filter out non-relevant stimuli from the environment. Dr. Gritton is a recipient of the Roy J Carver Early Career Award and is a Scialog Molecular Basis of Cognition Fellow.
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