The NIH Systems Neuroscience Seminar Series: Visual cortical circuits for segmentation, inference, and experience

Thursday, October 05, 2023 | 10:00 - 11:00 AM


When: October 5, 2023, from 10:00 – 11:00 am

Presentation: Visual cortical circuits for segmentation, inference, and experience

Guest Speaker: Hillel Adesnik, Ph.D.

Seminar:  Bldg. 35, Room 640


Photo of Dr. .Hillel Adesnik

About the Speaker:

Hillel Adesnik Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of California, Berkeley


Our brain is responsible for all our perceptions, thoughts and actions. Despite the incredible array of processes the brain performs - from memory to emotion - its elementary units of function are the nerve cell and the synaptic junction. How is it that a collection of neurons and their synapses gives rise to all of animal and human behavior?

In mammals and especially in humans, the cerebral cortex is an area of the brain that is crucially involved in nearly all cognitive functions. Individual neurons in the cortex can make over 10,000 connections with other brain cells. The precise pattern of connections between a local group of neurons in the cortex gives rises to its elementary unit of computation - the cortical microcircuit.

The goal of our laboratory is to reveal the neural basis of perception. More specifically, we want to understand exactly how cortical microcircuits process sensory information to drive behavior. While decades of research have carefully outlined how individual neurons extract specific features from the sensory environment, the cellular and synaptic mechanisms that permit ensembles of cortical neurons to actually process sensory information and generate perceptions are largely unknown.

Addressing this fundamental question of modern neuroscience requires working at both the cellular and system-wide level to assess how populations of neurons cooperate to encode information, generate perceptions, and execute behavioral decisions. Towards this end, we monitor and then manipulate specific subsets of genetically identified neurons in awake behaving mice to quantitatively determine their contribution to sensory processing and behavior. By turning neurons 'on' and 'off' using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic approaches, we can identify groups of cortical neurons that are both necessary and sufficient for specific neural computations. By complementing our in vivo work with detailed analysis of synaptic connectivity and network dynamics in vitro, we hope to arrive at a more complete understanding for how neural circuits in our brain support sensation, cognition, and action. Our lab is also developing a suite of novel optical and genetic approaches to manipulate neural circuits in the intact brain and at far greater resolution than is possible with current techniques. These new techniques will allow us to address fundamental questions about sensory computation and perception that have as yet eluded investigation.

Recent Publications

Recurrent pattern completion drives the neocortical representation of sensory inference Hyeyoung ShinMora OgandoLamiae AbdeladimSeverine DurandHannah BelskiHannah CabascoHenry LoeflerAhad BawanyBen HardcastleJosh WilkesKatrina NguyenLucas SuarezTye JohnsonWarren HanBen OuelletteConor GrassoJackie SwappVivian HaAhrial YoungShiella CaldejonAli WillifordPeter GroblewskiShawn OlsenCarly KiselycznykJerome LecoqHillel Adesnik bioRxiv 2023.06.05.543698; doi:

Dissociating instructive from permissive roles of brain circuits with reversible neural activity manipulations Daniel QuintanaHayley A. BoundsJennifer BrownMay WangNikhil BhatlaJ. Simon WiegertHillel Adesnik bioRxiv 2023.05.11.540397; doi:

Probing inter-areal computations with a cellular resolution two-photon holographic mesoscope. Lamiae Abdeladim, Hyeyoung Shin, Uday K. Jagadisan, Mora B. Ogando, Hillel Adesnik
bioRxiv 2023.03.02.530875; doi:

Rapid learning of neural circuitry from holographic ensemble stimulation enabled  by model-based compressed sensing Marcus A. TriplettMarta GajowaBenjamin Antin Masato Sadahiro Hillel AdesnikLiam Paninski

Upcoming Seminars:

The next seminar is Nov 2, Solange Brown. Host: Soohyun Lee, Title: tbd. Please reach out to the host if you wish to meet one on one with the speaker.

Much Thanks to the planning committee and to the Porter User Group supporting this series!

NIH Systems Neuroscience Seminar Series Committee

Yi Gu, NINDS, Co-Chair                 Soohyun Lee, NIMH

Arash Afraz, NIMH, Co-Chair       Yuanyuan Liu, NIDCR

Michelle, Antoine, NIAAA            Hendrikje Nienborg, NEI

Huaibin Cai, NIA                             Barry Richmond, NIMH

Yogita Chudasama, NIMH            Lorna Role, NINDS

Bevil Conway, NEI                         Catherine Weisz, NIDCD

Mark Histed, NIMH                       Kareem Zaghloul, NINDS


Supported by the Porter User Group

Alex Chesler, NCCIH, Chair          Wei Li, NEI             

Yarimar Carrasquillo, NCCIH        Dietmar Plenz, NIMH

Mark Cookson, NIA                       Nick Ryba, NIDCR

Rita Devine, NINDS                        Ellen Sidransky, NHGRI

Zayd Khaliq, NINDS                       Caterine Weisz, NIDCD

Claire Le Pichon, NICHD               Claro Yu, NIMH