Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Scott Pluta

Scott Pluta Profile Picture

Assistant Professor

Contact Info:
Lab: LILY B-125
Office: LILY 1-227

Training Group(s):
Integrative Neuroscience

Current Research Interests:

Navigating our surroundings is a goal-directed process that requires a continual interplay between sensory perception and motor action. To reach the intended destination, orienting towards and acting upon the appropriate environmental cues is essential. The midbrain superior colliculus (SC) is a centralized hub that integrates sensory, motor, and intentional information to guide behavior. Deactivation or lesion of the SC greatly impairs an animal's ability to attend to relevant cues, ignore distractions, and execute the appropriate response. The parallel integration of multiple, disparately organized cortical circuits in the SC is likely critical to forming its rich representations of sensory information that guide its motor decisions. However, the physiological and behavioral significance of this widespread, parallel convergence of cortical input in the SC is poorly understood.

The primary focus of my lab is to understand how descending signals from the cerebral cortex influence the activity of neurons in the SC to ultimately shape its intimate connection to behavior. We utilize genetically targeted labeling of cortical neurons and optically manipulate their activity to dissect their physiological and behavioral significance. To form a complete understanding of the sensorimotor loop, we causally test the significance of activity ascending from the SC to higher order networks. Ultimately, research from my lab will provide valuable insight into the neural mechanisms underlying goal-directed behaviors and could enable us to provide better treatment and diagnosis of neurological disorders, such as ADHD, Parkinson’s or schizophrenia.

Selected Publications:

Pluta, S. R., Telian, G. I., Naka, A., & Adesnik, H. Superficial layers suppress the deep layers to fine tune cortical coding (in review).

Pluta, S. R., Lyall, E. H., Telian, G. I., Ryapolova-Webb, E. & Adesnik, H. Surround Integration Organizes a spatial Map during Active Sensation. Neuron 1–14 (2017).

Pluta, S. et al. A direct translaminar inhibitory circuit tunes cortical output. Nat. Neurosci. 18, 1631–1640 (2015).

Miller, R. L., Pluta, S. R., Stein, B. E. & Rowland, B. A. Relative unisensory strength and timing predict their multisensory product. J. Neurosci. 35, (2015).

Pluta, S. R., Rowland, B. A., Stanford, T. R. & Stein, B. E. Alterations to multisensory and unisensory integration by stimulus competition. J. Neurophysiol. 106, (2011).

Pluta, S. R. & Kawasaki, M. Temporal selectivity in midbrain electrosensory neurons identified by modal variation in active sensing. J. Neurophysiol. 104, (2010).

Pluta, S. R. & Kawasaki, M. Multisensory enhancement of electromotor responses to a single moving object. J. Exp. Biol. 211, (2008).

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