Dr. Yoav Livneh
Major questions we ask:
1. How are different physiological need states represented? How do we prioritize certain behaviors over others?
2. How are different internal sensations computed and organized? How are they used to guide behavioral choice?
3, What is the role of the interoceptive cortex? How are cortical computations of current events, and predictions of future events, used to regulate bodily function?
The brain and body are in continuous dialog. Brain-body communication requires interoception, the perception of internal bodily signals. This involves sensing of various signals relating to heart rate, blood sugar levels, temperature, inflammation, and more. In other words, “How do I feel?”
Insular cortex (or 'insula') is the main cortical site that integrates external cues with diverse bodily signals. We seek to understand brain-body communication, and its role in regulating diverse behaviors, by focusing on cortical computations in insular cortex, which is a central node in the brain-body loop.
We use cellular and sub-cellular two-photon imaging and holography for optogenetic activation of specific activity patterns, together with circuit-mapping, circuit manipulation and computational approaches. We combine these approaches with measurements and manipulations of bodily physiology, in the context of goal-directed behaviors.