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The neocortex plays a central role in the processing, storage, and retrieval of information necessary for sensory perception and higher cognitive abilities. These functions depend on both the synaptic connectivity of local circuits and the capability of individual neurons to perform complex computations through the compartmentalization of electrical and biochemical signaling within their dendritic arbors. Our goal is to understand the development, organization, and function of neocortical circuits. Much of our focus is on examining how the dynamic interactions of excitatory, inhibitory, and neuromodulatory inputs influence the activity of single neurons and the local networks in which they participate. We are also developing approaches to monitor neuronal and synaptic activity in the awake behaving mouse.
By combining an array of methods in brain slices and in vivo, including electrophysiology, multiphoton microscopy, genetic manipulation of targeted cell types, and behavior analyses, we are bridging the gaps between molecular, cellular, and systems neuroscience. With this multilevel approach, we hope to generate new insights into the neural mechanisms of complex behaviors and the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders including depression and autism.