Michael Wehr

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Member, ION

Ph.D. California Institute of Technology
Sc.B. Brown University

LISB 213
LISB 203-206


Research Interests: How local circuits in the auditory cortex encode and transform sensory information

Overview: We study how local circuits in the cerebral cortex encode and transform sensory information. We use the rodent auditory cortex as a model system to investigate how cellular and network properties shape cortical responses to a continuous and temporally complex stream of sensory data. Research in my laboratory combines aspects of both cellular, systems, and computational neuroscience, by using the tools of molecular biology and cellular physiology to address systems-level questions. By using a variety of electrophysiological approaches, in particular in vivo whole cell recording methods in combination with molecular manipulations, we are trying to identify the cellular and synaptic mechanisms with which cortical circuits process auditory information, leading ultimately to our perceptual experiences of acoustic streams, such as music and speech.


Related Articles

Somatostatin-Expressing Inhibitory Interneurons in Cortical Circuits.

Front Neural Circuits. 2016;10:76

Authors: Yavorska I, Wehr M

Cortical inhibitory neurons exhibit remarkable diversity in their morphology, connectivity, and synaptic properties. Here, we review the function of somatostatin-expressing (SOM) inhibitory interneurons, focusing largely on sensory cortex. SOM neurons also comprise a number of subpopulations that can be distinguished by their morphology, input and output connectivity, laminar location, firing properties, and expression of molecular markers. Several of these classes of SOM neurons show unique dynamics and characteristics, such as facilitating synapses, specific axonal projections, intralaminar input, and top-down modulation, which suggest possible computational roles. SOM cells can be differentially modulated by behavioral state depending on their class, sensory system, and behavioral paradigm. The functional effects of such modulation have been studied with optogenetic manipulation of SOM cells, which produces effects on learning and memory, task performance, and the integration of cortical activity. Different classes of SOM cells participate in distinct disinhibitory circuits with different inhibitory partners and in different cortical layers. Through these disinhibitory circuits, SOM cells help encode the behavioral relevance of sensory stimuli by regulating the activity of cortical neurons based on subcortical and intracortical modulatory input. Associative learning leads to long-term changes in the strength of connectivity of SOM cells with other neurons, often influencing the strength of inhibitory input they receive. Thus despite their heterogeneity and variability across cortical areas, current evidence shows that SOM neurons perform unique neural computations, forming not only distinct molecular but also functional subclasses of cortical inhibitory interneurons.

PMID: 27746722 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]