Biomedical Engineering; Circadian Rhythm/Chronobiology; Computational Biology; Imaging In Vivo; Neurodevelopmental Disorders; Neuroscience; Schizophrenia; Vision science
Our work focuses on understanding how early life experience informs the construction of sensory circuits that are ultimately used to guide appropriate behavior and learning. The goal is to leverage this knowledge to design more effective treatments for cognitive and perceptual dysfunction associated with maladaptive plasticity.
Our research falls into 3 broad categories, geared to address the following questions:
Learning and memory: how do neural circuits integrate new information while maintaining stable perception and existing behavioral skill sets? Our recent work established that cortical networks are inherently robust to perturbations associated with experience-dependent plasticity. We are currently dissecting the circuit basis for this observed robustness, a robustness that is critical for lifelong learning.
Metabolic homeostasis: how do the metabolic needs of the organism influence perception? To address this, we examine the impact of satiation state as well as jet-lag on sensory-related anticipatory signals.
Cellular energy balance: how do neurons regulate energy usage during intense mental training? During periods of high neuronal activity, there are competing cellular processes that must occur for a neuron to express synaptic plasticity and remain healthy. We are examining the mechanisms that regulate the temporal kinetics of AMPA receptor trafficking and mitochondrial dynamics using brain-computer interface technology. Our novel technology allows us to monitor subcellular dynamics in the specific neurons directly undergoing training, in-vivo.
To answer our research questions, we employ state-of-the-art microscopy in awake mice in combination with sophisticated behavioral paradigms. Relevant pathophysiological conditions being investigated include: amblyopia, epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia, and sleep-related disorders.