Research

Mission:

The goal of our lab is to understand principles by which neural circuits process sensory information and guide adaptive motor behaviour.

Approach:

We study the mouse as it is a mammalian, genetic model system where neurons can be recorded and their activity manipulated during quantified behaviour.

Methods:

We focus our efforts on cortical regions associated with tactile sensing and movement of the mouse forepaw. We combine behavioural training with in vivo electrophysiological recording techniques (especially whole-cell patch clamp), 2-photon microscopy, optical techniques for manipulating neural activity and anatomical reconstruction of stained neurons.

Experiments:

Our experiments are carried out in a brain jungle called the neocortex. We hope to cut paths in this jungle by targeting our experiments to small cortical regions, identifiable from mouse to mouse, and then using electrophysiological, genetic and optical techniques to record and manipulate neuronal activity at the synaptic, cellular and circuit level.  We often make whole-cell patch clamp recordings to be able to measure both the synaptic input and the spiking output of a cortical neuron to try to understand what sort of computations they perform.

We think it is important to link the anatomy of neurons to their function. During our experiments we therefore stain the neurons we have recorded to identify both their anatomical location in the brain and the cell type.  

Animals process sensory information when they are awake and behaving. We are therefore particularly interested in studying sensory perception during behaviour and the link between sensory and motor circuits.

In vivo, cortical neurons are always active. We would like to know how this activity is regulated, what it´s impact is on neural processing and how it ultimately leads to behaviour.