Neuroscience in Denmark

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General information

Name (center, department, group or other)
Kvitsiani Group, DANDRITE - Danish Research Institute of Translational Neuroscience, Aarhus University
Contact name
Duda Kvitsiani
Contact email
Contact title
Group Leader
9. December 2015
(Last edited: 1. March 2018)

Brief description of research activities

Overarching goal of my lab is to understand how do we make decisions. Why and how do we choose to give up immediate rewards for long term goals? Or why do we ascribe higher value to objects that were obtained by bigger effort? These and other neuroeconomics type of questions motivate us to develop new psychophysics based behavioral assays in animals to study molecular and circuit mechanisms underlying value based choices.

We pursue these goals in two model organisms: in fruit fly and mouse. In fruit flies we are aiming to reveal key molecular players that regulate reward foraging decisions in a new behavioral assay designed to test how flies incorporate reward history into their choices. In order to characterize specific deficits in behavior by genetic manipulations we build computational models that capture different aspects of fly foraging decisions.

In mice we are trying to understand what is the role of cell-type diversity in cortical circuits. We are approaching this problem by developing behavioral tasks that engage prefrontal circuits and probing the role of interneuron cell types by using optogenetics and extracellular electrophysiology. Basic questions we ask are: Why there is such a diversity among inhibitory interneurons and what behavioral functions they serve? Currently we pursue hypothesis that interneurons organize cortical network dynamics in a way that improves computational power of major excitatory neurons. For testing this hypothesis we are developing rule based decision making tasks in mice together with cell-type specific recordings, optogenetic manipulations and computational models to gain fundamental insights into cortical organization.

We are also interested in understanding how value and effort are intimately related to each other. Some of the experiments from human psychology suggest that value of the outcome depends on effort being exerted. We aim to uncover neural circuit basis of this phenomenon by developing effort based behavioral assays in mice and recording activity from prefrontal circuits known to integrate effort into decisions.


cell-types, interneurons, effort, value, prefrontal cortex

Research tools and techniques

behavioral electrophysiology, optogenetics, computational modelling, psychophysics, molecular genetics

Scientific Personnel

No of Associate Professors/Postdocs: 1
No of PhD students: 4
Other: 2

Key references from within the last 5 years

Taniguchi H, He M, Wu P, Kim S, Paik R, Sugino K, Kvitsiani D, Fu Y, Lu J, Lin Y, Miyoshi G, Shima Y, Fishell G, Nelson SB, Huang ZJ. “A resource of Cre driver lines for genetic targeting of GABAergic neurons in cerebral cortex.” Neuron.2011 Sep 22; 71(6):995-1013.

Kvitsiani D*, Ranade S*, Hangya B, Taniguchi H, Huan Kepecs A “Distinct behavioural correlates and network interactions of two interneuron classes in mouse prefrontal cortex.” Nature. 2012. June 20; 498(7454):363-6. * These authors contributed equally

Pi HJ, Hangya B, Kvitsiani D, Sanders JI, Huang ZJ, Kepecs A “Cortical interneurons that specialize in disinhibitory control.” Nature. 2013 Oct 6.

Hangya B, Pi HJ, Kvitsiani D, Ranade SP, Kepecs A. “From circuit motifs to computations: mapping the behavioral repertoire of cortical interneurons.” Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2014 Feb 4,117-124

Scherfigsvej 7
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Tel. +45 39 12 80 00
CVR-nr. 11 81 49 13
Nils Axelsen Ralf Hemmingsen Lauritz Holm-Nielsen Ralf Hemmingsen Jens Oddershede Jens Frederik Rehfeld Anders Bjørklund