Halassa Lab

Project 4

Investigating frontal thalamocortical circuits in human cognitive flexibility


Published and ongoing work in our lab focusing on frontal thalamocortical circuits has shown their role in cognitive flexibility. This is congruent with work from multiple other laboratories in the field (e.g. Kellendonk, Mitchell, Saalmann, Wolff, among others). More recently, we have focused on the specific role of the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) in decisions involving multiple sources of uncertainty, with preliminary data suggesting a role in coupling error monitoring to task switching. However, to what degree these insights and mechanisms apply to the human brain is unknown. To address this issue, we developed a hierarchical decision-making task that requires individuals to integrate multiple sources of uncertainty and adapt their behavioral patterns based on feedback over time. Through the combined use of non-invasive functional MRI and computational modeling, we aim to better understand the interactions between MD, PFC, and other cortical and subcortical structures during the process of behavioral adaptation in uncertain environments. These insights into the neural mechanisms of cognitive flexibility hold significant promise for informing clinical interventions aimed at enhancing decision-making processes and adaptive behaviors in individuals with neurological and psychiatric conditions. (led by Mengxing in collaboration with Kai Hwang’s lab, University of Iowa)


Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
43 Vassar St
Cambridge, MA 02139


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