24 January 2018: A brain circuit for pupil orienting responses: implications for cognitive modulation of pupil size

Douglas P Munoz
Centre for Neuroscience Studies
Queen’s University

Understanding how humans perceive and act upon complex natural environments is one of the most pressing challenges in neuroscience. Recent work has demonstrated that pupil size is modulated by many cognitive processes in the brain. How does the brain generate cognitive signals that modulate pupil size? This talk will focus on identification of brain circuits that control pupil size and account for the presence of sensory/perceptual, pre-motor/attention, and other cognitive orienting signals on the pupil. Understanding this circuitry for pupil orienting responses allows pupil measures to be used to study normal human development and aging and various disease processes. The pupil provides a rich source of clinical biomarkers that can be easily mapped onto pupil control circuits in the brain.