We study how brain states affect sensory perception and decision making

Our perception of the world varies strongly with our behavioral state. Whether we are focused on a challenging task or thinking about past experiences determines how we interpret and respond to external stimuli.

We want to understand how such state fluctuations alter the function of different brain areas and ultimately our sensory perception and behavior. We are particularly interested in the role of neuromodulators, such as acetylcholine, and how they affect the function and interaction of neural networks in the cortex.

Brain vessels in the cortex

Imaging neural activity in the cortex through the intact skull: Example data from a task-engaged mouse. The thin lines show location of cortical areas.

In our experiments, we study mice that perform different perceptual tasks while monitoring fluctuations in their behavioral state and neural activity. Here, we combine high-speed video tracking, pupillometry, and behavioral models with cortex-wide functional imaging, multi-layer 2-photon microscopy, and high-density electrophysiology to study how neural function gives rise to behavior. We also use optogenetic activation or silencing of neural circuits to study their role in the generation and maintenance of behavioral states