Sensory perception may appear as a straightforward process. The sensory stimulus is detected and its characteristics are passed “forward”. However, perception is shaped by numerous factors, ranging from our surroundings to our emotional state. For instance, the sound of approaching footsteps is perceived as safe when walking down a well-lit street but as dangerous when walking down a dark alley. Understanding how sound is transformed into a sensory experience requires studying all levels of resolution; from the molecular mechanisms to the organism’s behavior. To achieve this, we study brain activity and network connectivity while mice engage in auditory perceptual tasks. Our ultimate goal is to understand the link between auditory sensation and perception; and how changes in auditory perception can sometimes improve our daily decision-making, while other times, distort the neural representation of sensory stimuli, contributing to sensory and mental health disorders.
Our approach: We develop behavioral tasks that model and retain the principles of our daily sensory perception process. Then we use electrical, optical and pharmacological techniques to monitor and manipulate the activity of synapses, neurons and networks to identify the neural circuit elements involved in sound processing and perception. Some of the techniques we combine are: two-photon calcium imaging in behaving mice, electrophysiology, optogenetics, viral tracing and anatomical techniques.
Open positions: We are always interested in hearing from highly motivated and enthusiastic students and scientists looking to join our team. Applicants should contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.