Visual object recognition: neural substrate of bottom-up attention
Rapid decisions based on incomplete sensory information are often crucial for an animal's survival. To catch prey, or escape from a predator, zebrafish larvae need to be able to focus on a particular object, while ignoring other distracting stimuli. When two objects are simultaneously presented, competing for the animal's attention, dynamic neuronal computations ensure that only one stimulus is selected for a behavioral response. Project B16 aims to (1) develop a behavioral paradigm to study this type of bottom-up attention in free-swimming zebrafish larvae, (2) identify the neuronal circuits that encode saliency and mediate the selection of behavioral responses, and (3) establish causality of neuronal activity patterns and visual object recognition. In this proposal we will use a combination of behavioral, optical and genetic approaches to identify fundamental mechanisms governing stimulus selection.