Professor, Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience
Ph.D. New York University Medical Center
B.A. New College
Research Interests: Cellular and molecular basis of memory.
Overview: What changes in your brain when you learn something? Lesion studies have determined that a highly conserved structure called the hippocampus is required for memory acquisition in mammals, including humans. My laboratory is interested in how neurons in the hippocampus and related brain areas reflect experience. We use two distinct but complementary approaches to this goal: 1) recording neurons from awake, behaving rodents; and 2) generating genetically-modified mice capable of expressing transgenes in particular neuronal cell types relevant to learning and memory. Combining the former with the latter enables the neural analog of the approach used by engineers to investigate electrical circuits: basically, one records from one circuit element (i.e. neuronal cell type) while manipulating the activity of others. In this way we can explore the transformation of information through the circuitry underlying learning and memory.
J Neurosci Methods. 2021 Mar 19:109142. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2021.109142. Online ahead of print.
Neural circuits are composed of multitudes of elaborately interconnected cell types. Understanding neural circuit function requires not only cell-specific knowledge of connectivity, but the ability to record and manipulate distinct cell types independently. Recent advances in viral vectors promise the requisite specificity to perform true "circuit-breaking" experiments. However, such new avenues of multiplexed, cell-specific investigation raise new technical issues: one must ensure that both the viral vectors and their transgene payloads do not overlap with each other in both an anatomical and a functional sense. This review describes benefits and issues regarding the use of viral vectors to analyse the function of neural circuits and provides a resource for the design and implementation of such multiplexing experiments.