Research

A fundamental challenge in neuroscience is how information from the external world is integrated to form a coherent, and continually updated, perception of external events. Progress towards this problem has been hindered by the underlying assumption that our five sensory systems are both anatomically and phenomenologically distinct from each other as well as from systems processing motor related information. This idea has been perpetuated by the long tradition of studying sensory systems in isolation, with multimodal and sensorimotor processing in the cortex assumed to occur in specialized cortical modules relatively late in the processing hierarchy, and only after unimodal sensory processing in the so-called sensory-specific areas. However, in recent years, a surge in research investigating multimodal integration during active behaviours has emphasized that the senses together provide critical links to building an external reality, even at the earliest levels of cortical processing, and that combining sensory and motor inputs leads to perceptual and behavioural improvements.

 

The aim of the Neural Circuits & Network Dynamics group is to better understand how neural circuits function during the transformation of information from sensory perception to behavioural response, including circuitry connecting cortical and subcortical structures and the role these networks play in behavioural control and cognition. A vital step in understanding the functional principles of neural circuits is to directly observe the activity of local circuit elements with high temporal and spatial resolution. Two-photon microscopy is increasingly recognized as a crucial tool for these functional investigations; providing insight into how neurons encode information and transfer signals throughout various brain regions.

 

My research group utilizes innovative neuroanatomical tracing techniques, advanced in vivo two-photon imaging, and genetically targeted manipulations of neuronal activity to investigate the cell-type specific microcircuitry of the cerebral cortex, the macrocircuitry of cortical output to subcortical structures, and the functional circuitry underlying processes of sensory perception and motor behaviour.