We are broadly interested in the structure and function of frontal cortical circuits. Many of our experiments involve cellular-resolution optical imaging and head-fixed mouse behavior. We have made progress in two specific areas:
Flexible sensory-motor behavior
In a changing environment, animals must adjust their sensorimotor plans to match the behavioral demands. Namely, the same sensory stimulus can lead to different motor responses depending on the context. Such capacity for flexible behavior is thought to be a central feature of the mammalian frontal cortex. However, the neural circuit mechanisms are poorly understood. To address this issue, we designed tasks to assay sensory-motor behavior in head-fixed mice, and are performing optical imaging and perturbation experiments. Recent studies in the lab have focused on the role of the mouse secondary motor cortex (M2).
Longitudinal imaging in rodent models of depression
We want to understand the impact of chronic stress and antidepressants on the frontal cortical circuitry. Because the time course of pathophysiology can vary greatly across individuals, a major goal of our research is to perform longitudinal studies. To this end, we are developing cellular-resolution optical imaging methods to capture structural and functional changes to neurons in vivo. In a recent study, we investigated the hypothesis that synaptogenesis mediates effects of fast-acting antidepressants. We used longitudinal two-photon imaging to show that a single dose of ketamine leads to a sustained increase in the rate of spine formation in the mouse medial frontal cortex.