About the Lab
Our goal is to uncover the circuit-level logic of the cerebral cortex. The cortex is required for most flexible behaviors. Information is encoded in action potentials across ensembles of neurons. How do patterns of action potentials in specific cell types drive behavior? And what are the mechanisms shaping activity patterns in these cell types?
Our approach can be divided into three steps. First, we map the connections between defined cell types. The resulting circuit diagrams are the foundation on which functional studies stand. Over the last ten years our lab and others have filled in huge gaps in our understanding of the organization of somatosensory circuits.
Second, we record activity in defined cell types during behavior. Novel whisker-based haptic tasks for head-fixed mice provide outstanding stimulus control and facilitate powerful biophysical methods, such as whole cell recordings and two-photon microscopy.
Third, we manipulate neurons to establish causal relationships between behavior and activity patterns. Neurophysiological recordings naturally lead to hypotheses about how action potentials code for behavior. However, only when precise synthetic spike trains, imposed on specific neurons, elicit predictable behavior can we claim to understand the neural code.
My lab also has a long-standing interest in biophysical methods for brain research. Over the last few years our main goal has been to advance tools for imaging activity in large populations of neurons and in small neuronal compartments in vivo.