Our goal is to understand basic principles of cortical computations, from the circuit to systems levels. We focus on understanding how the ethologically-relevant features of a sensory scene are extracted from the raw sensory flow, where this information is parsed, and how it guides complex behavior.
One of our major projects is focused on primary (S1 or barrel cortex) and secondary (S2) somatosensory cortices in rodents that process information from their whiskers. We combine electrophysiology with multielectrode neural probes, local optogenetics stimulation with optoprobes, and monitoring of neurochemicals with chemprobes to record neural activity while animals actively navigate in virtual reality and solve behavioral tasks. Correlations of brain activity with animal behavior and choices provide insights on mechanisms of cortical processing.
Electrophysiology with multi-electrode silicon probes to record from a massive number of neurons across many brain regions simultaneously in awake and behaving animals.
Behavioral paradigms in virtual reality to study neural circuits in almost natural environment while mice are engaged in goal-directed behavior. Virtual reality systems allow full control over behavioral tasks and quantitative measurements of resulting behavior.
Optogenetics to identify and record activity of specific cell types during behavior and for manipulating neural circuits to reverse-engineer their functionality.
Neuroanatomy leveraging new viral, genetic, and computational tools to provide insights into brain circuits functionality.
Machine learning based analytical methods to extract dynamical patterns of neural activity that are correlated with animal behavior and choice.
N.Sofroniew, Y.Vlasov, S. Hires, J.Freeman, K.Svoboda, “Neural coding in barrel cortex during whisker-guided locomotion”, eLife;4:e12559 (2015))