Research


The somatosensory map is a cortical representation of the skin surface where the spatial relationship of the periphery is retained in the cortical representation. Using the well-defined map in the rodent somatosensory barrel cortex we study the principles underlying tactile processing.

"Touch has a memory"

Cerebral_Cortex,Issue_V20_N4

Sensory information is processed and subsequently stored as memories in the brain. The neural mechanisms and circuits that can explain this process are largely unknown. To obtain a better understanding of these processes we study neuronal processing in somatosensory cortex. Questions that are studied are for example coding of object location and objects features, such as texture. Combining behavioural assays and electrophysiology we aim to give causal explanations of animal behavior in terms of the
                                                     activity in the underlying brain circuits.


"Boing Boom Tschak"

How do we determine relevant information from nonsense? It is a well-known fact from our own experience and from psycho-physics experiments that we can, and indeed need to focus our attention on selected aspects of the environment. One such "filter" mechanism is cortical control of thalamus which is a major relay station of sensory information to neocortex. Using optogenetics to turn on and off this cortical "filter" mechanism we are investigating how the brain actively controls what type of information that reaches our awareness.


A neuron is not a neuron is not a neuron

Essential to understanding the brain is knowledge of its constituent units. Neurons are classified according to parameters such as morphology, electrical properties and genetic profile. Using mathematical statistics we examine in detail these parameters to unravel important anatomical structures. This analysis is important for understanding structure-function relationships in neuronal circuits.



The core method we use is in vivo electrophysiology in combination with behavioural tests, imaging techniques, and optogenetics. Furthermore, we use state-of-the art viral mediated techniques for cell specific labeling and trans-synaptic tracing.

Projects

- Investigation of cortical control of sensory coding
- Investigate how changes in the cortical representation of the skin surface   affect behavior
- Models of Structural Plasticity Dynamics in Neocortical Circuits


Applied Methods

- Animal models of brain disease
- Behavioral analysis of learning
- Multiphoton confocal microscopy
- Optical imaging in vivo
- Optogenetics
- Patch clamp
- Transgenic mouse models