I am interested in mechanisms of cortical sensory processing: How do neurons transform information from the world and into electrical activity used to mediate perception and behavior. Previously I worked in the auditory system, but I now focus on the visual system. I have studied the primary visual cortex in a number of mammalian species and am a proponent of the power of comparative analyses.
My lab studies the presynaptic network. Each neuron receives a wide collection of inputs. These inputs can drive, suppress, or subtly modulate their target. The suite of operations neurons can perform are defined by these inputs and their dynamics. Outside network dynamics, the only way a neuron can dramatically change its operational capacity is through plasticity of these inputs. Thus, to understand how individual neurons and circuits transform information, we must build a fundamental understanding of the presynaptic network. I believe this knowledge will extend beyond fundamentals and lead to novel insights into circuits in neurological and developmental disorders.
Our work uses a variety of techniques to study sensory processing within single cells and across large-scale populations in vivo. Historically this has been with electrophysiology (intracellular and extracellular recordings) and multiphoton calcium imaging. Now we have expanded to two-photon optogenetics using 3D holography, functional connectomics with electron microscopy, novel viral constructs, and gene editing to disrupt naturally expressed proteins and receptors.