Identifying and manipulating the neural circuits of decision-making

Making choices is an elemental part of life yet one of the most challenging but fascinating questions in neuroscience is the neural basis of decision-making.

Decision-making arises from activity between cortical areas but this communication also occurs via higher order thalamus. These cortico-thalamo-cortical pathways ubiquitously parallel direct corticocortical pathways, yet their role in perception has largely been ignored. Our previous work has shown that the transthalamic pathway in the somatosensory system is an essential neural pathway for perceptual decisions (Mo et al., 2023, PMID: 37034798).

This project delves deeper into the role of transthalamic pathways in perceptual choice by combining trans-synaptic tracing, live neural imaging in cortex and controlled silencing or activation of neural circuits during behavioural task.


  • Monitor cells during decision-making.
  • Identify the neural inputs to decision circuits.
  • Manipulate decision circuitry and their inputs.

Skills and techniques

  • Stereotaxic injections of the rabies virus for trans-synaptic labeling
  • Perceptual decision task training
  • In vivo optogenetics
  • Brain sectioning and histology
  • Miniscope imaging

Take part in this project

Student applications

Students who are applying to study at The Florey and have experience in mouse behaviour, coding or an interest in neural circuits are encouraged to apply. Refer to our step-by-step guide to help you with your application.

How to apply

Accepting students

Selected publications

  • Mo C, McKinnon C & Sherman SM (2023), ‘A transthalamic pathway crucial for perception’ bioRxiv, doi:10.1101/2023.03.30.533323
  • Mo C & Sherman SM (2019), ‘A sensorimotor pathway via higher-order thalamus’, Journal of Neuroscience, 39(4):692-704; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1467-18.2018

Contact us

Christina Mo

[email protected]