Trachtenberg Lab
 
  Neural Circuitry of Learning & Vision

"The future aint what it used to be"
-- Yogi Bera

It is precisely because the future is unpredictable that the mammalian brain has evolved the capacity to acquire new information through sensory experiences, store this information as memories, and rapidly retrieve this information to modify behavior. But how do novel sensory experiences embed themselves in the fabric of the brain to form memories?
Research Overview

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The goal of the research in my lab is to understand, on the level of single neurons and synaptic connections, how sensory information changes the "neural ciruit" - the connections between neurons in the brain. It is quite clear that connections between brain cells are extremely labile when we are young (and wild and free), but progressively less so as we age out of adolescence, into adulthood, and old age. Yet it remains something of a mystery why. How is the young brain different than the adult brain? Why is it so trivial for children to learn new languages, symbolic representation, new motor movements, and so on?

To answer these questions, research in my lab employs imaging, genetic, optogenetic, pharmacogenetic, and electrophysiological tools to probe neural circuitry in the brains of adolescent and adult mice. A main technique in the lab is resonant scanning 2-photon calcium imaging, which allows us to visualize the activity of hundereds of neurons in the living brain with high spatial and temporal resolution. With this technique, we follow the activity of neuronal networks over hours, or days, or weeks and define exactly how the network changes before and after learning. We are also mapping neural circuit connectivity both in vivo, by modeling connectivity probabilities based on the calcium imaging data we acquire, and in brain slices using glutamate uncaging or channel-rhodopsin stimulation.

  intrinsic imaging   cell attached      
 
 
Lab Members

Amy Baohan
MSTP
Pablo Garcia-Junco Clemente
Postdoc  
Nicholas Olivas
Postdoc  
Elaine Tring
Research Scientist  
Joshua Trachtenberg
Principal Investigator