Mark Laubach PhD
Associate Professor of Neurobiology; Associate Fellow, Pierce Laboratory
Dr. Laubach has been at the John B. Pierce Laboratory since the summer of 2001. He obtained his PhD at Wake Forrest University in 1997, working with Dr. Donald Woodward's group on new methods for simultaneously recording from multiple electrode in the brain. He also worked on the neurophysiological basis of reaction-time performance and studied neuronal ensembles in the basal ganglia and frontal cortex. He continued that line of work as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University from 1997-2001. There, he worked with Dr. Miguel Nicolelis' group in the Department of Neurobiology.
The goal of the Laubach Laboratory's research is to understand the role of the frontal cortex and basal ganglia in value-based decision making, food-seeking behavior, and the cognitive control of action. The research seeks to understand how frontal regions of the brain learn predictive relationships between stimuli and outcomes (such as food) and control action selection. Three lines of research are currently being carried out on these topics. First, the laboratory is studying how errors influence neuronal activity to improve future task performance. Second, the laboratory is studying how the values of external stimuli, including rewards, are learned and flexibly tracked under changing environmental circumstances and how these aspects of stimuli and actions are mapped onto neuronal activity. Third, the laboratory is studying how working memory, based on persistent firing by neurons in the frontal cortex, is used to link together sequences of goal-directed actions. To study these issues, multi-electrode recording methods are used in awake, behaving rodents, along with methods for reversible inactivating brain regions (e.g., fluorescent muscimol), anatomical circuit tracing, and, most recently, optogenetic methods. The laboratory is also active in developing methods for quantifying how neuronal spike trains and population activity represent information about behavior, how spike trains relate to fluctuations in local field potentials, and how to relate the diffusion of fluorescent drugs and AAVs in the brain to behavioral effects of the drugs and AAVs on behavior (enabling functional volumetric imaging and tract-tracing studies in the brains of behaviorally characterized animals).
The Laubach Laboratory is is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health and is a core group in the Swartz Initiative for Theoretical and Systems Neuroscience at Yale.
(2010 - 2010)
Organizer and Co-Chair for Workshop on the Computational Properties of Prefrontal Cortex, Whistler, BC, Sep 10-12, 2010.
Education & Training
- Wake Forest University (1997)
Honors & Recognition
- Donald Lindsley Prize awarded to Laubach's first graduate student, Nandakumar Narayanan (MD/PhD program)
Society for Neuroscience (2009)
- Co-Chair of Workshops at International Conference, Computational and Systems Neuroscience Meeting (8/1/2008 - 3/31/2010)
- Action editor assigning reviewers and rendering decisions on publication, Frontiers in Neuroscience (2009 - 2009)