Marshall G. Hussain Shuler Lab

Marshall G Hussain Shuler                     
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Neural mechanisms of reinforcement learning

A fundamental task accomplished by the brain is the formation of adaptive behaviors in response to environmental stimuli. Brain reward systems are thought to mediate changes in synaptic efficacy underlying learning of appropriate behaviors by relating the outcome of behavior with preceding neural activity. Understanding the means by which such systems come to convey reward value, expectancy, quality, probability and utility, and the rules by which such activity is used to effect synaptic weight within brain networks to encode stimulus-action associations is the pursuit of the Hussain Shuler laboratory. 

             While it is commonly held that ‘higher-order’ brain regions are engaged to elaborate on the behavioral significance of sensory input, Dr. Hussain Shuler has demonstrated reward-timing activity within the primary visual cortex. Specifically, Dr. Hussain Shuler provided evidence that pairing visual stimuli with subsequent reward leads to the emergence of reward-timing activity in the primary visual cortex (V1). The properties of this activity suggest that it may be generated within V1 itself, motivating a research program to investigate the neural mechanisms of reward-based interval learning in V1. To investigate this central question, the Hussain Shuler lab uses an interdisciplinary approach combining multi-site recordings of neural activity, targeted pharmacological manipulation, viral-mediated gene transfer and behavior.

See also, Department of Neuroscience Hussain Shuler Lab webpage.

BREAKING LAB NEWS: We are pleased to announce our most recent publication:
Levy JM, Zold CL, Namboodiri VMK, Hussain Shuler MG. The Timing of Reward-Seeking Action Tracks Visually Cued Theta Oscillations in Primary Visual Cortex. J Neurosci. 2017 Oct 25;37(43):10408-10420. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0923-17.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 25. PubMed PMID: 28947572; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5656994.

Namboodiri VM, Hussain Shuler MG. The hunt for the perfect discounting function and a reckoning of time perception. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2016 Oct;40:135-141. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2016.06.019. Epub 2016 Jul 29. Review. PubMed PMID: 27479656; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5056825.

Namboodiri VM, Levy JM, Mihalas S, Sims DW, Hussain Shuler MG. Rationalizing spatial exploration patterns of wild animals and humans through a temporal discounting framework. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Aug 2;113(31):8747-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1601664113. Epub 2016 Jul 6. PubMed PMID: 27385831; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4978240.

Shuler MG. Timing in the visual cortex and its investigation. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2016 Apr;8:73-77. PubMed PMID: 26949724; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4772165.

Namboodiri VM, Mihalas S, Hussain Shuler MG. Analytical Calculation of Errors in Time and Value Perception Due to a Subjective Time Accumulator: A Mechanistic Model and the Generation of Weber's Law. Neural Comput. 2016 Jan;28(1):89-117. doi: 10.1162/NECO_a_00792. Epub 2015 Nov 24. PubMed PMID: 26599714.