Spencer L. Smith, PhD



Assistant Professor

Research Description

We explore neocortical neural circuitry-- its development and function-- using imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior. The goal of our research is a better understanding of how molecular, cellular, and synaptic mechanisms underlie the function of large-scale neocortical circuitry. Ultimately, we hope this better understanding may illuminate the mechanisms in complex diseases like autism and schizophrenia, and suggest new therapeutic strategies.

To interrogate large-scale neural circuitry at the cellular and synaptic levels, we monitor neural activity during normal brain function and during various manipulations. We use a range of different techniques to carry out this work, including imaging, electrophysiology, optogenetics, and behavior. Currently, the principal model system for our studies is the mouse visual cortex.

Selected Publications

Marra V, Burden JJ, Thorpe JR, Smith IT, Smith SL, Branco T, Staras K (2012) A preferentially segregated recycling vesicle pool of limited size supports neurotransmission in native central synapses. Neuron 76(3):579-589. PMID: 23141069

Smith SL, Smith IT (2011) Life imitates op art. Nature Neuroscience 14(7):803-804. PMID: 21709673

Smith SL, Hausser M (2010) Parallel processing of visual space by neighboring neurons in mouse visual cortex. Nature Neuroscience 13:1144-1149. PMID: 20711183

Smith SL, Trachtenberg JT (2010) The refinement of ipsilateral eye retinotopic maps is increased by removing the dominant contralateral eye in adult mice. PLoS One 5(3):e9925. PMID: 20369001

Hausser M, Smith SL (2007) Neuroscience: Controlling neural circuits with light. Nature 446:617-619. PMID: 17410162

Smith SL, Trachtenberg JT (2007) Experience-dependent binocular competition in the visual cortex begins at eye opening. Nature Neuroscience 10:370-375. PMID: 17293862

Contact Information


Office: (919) 966-2349