The central question behind our group’s work is, how do we learn from, and adapt to,
rewarding experiences and their associated cues?
We are also greatly interested in the related problem of how the brain circuitry of reward and motivation is affected in animal models of disorders such as addiction and depression.
We constantly update our behavioral repertoire by linking information about past, present and future expected reinforcing events through a complex interplay of neuronal activity choreographed on millisecond timescales. A major challenge to understanding reward, learning, and motivation has been the lack of techniques for observing these network-level patterns of activation with high spatial and temporal resolution. We design and use custom silicon microprobes to interrogate this fast, cell-to-cell signaling regime in the basal ganglia and limbic system. These microprobes can simultaneously measure firing from hundreds of neurons, and their geometry is optimized for sampling single units and local field potentials from multiple anatomical regions in parallel.
This work is highly interdisciplinary and we are on the lookout for enthusiastic students and postdocs from a variety of backgrounds such as neuroscience, physics, or engineering. If you are passionate about studying the brain circuitry of reward-based learning and are curious about state-of-the-art electrode technology and the vast amounts of data they produce, we would be happy to hear from you!