Education and Training
California Institute of Technology, BS, 1976
University of Florida, PhD, 1981
University of Florida College of Medicine, Research Associate, 1981-1982
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Postdoctoral, 1982-1985
Areas of Interest
Our fundamental interest is in how the nervous system processes sensory information. We have been studying these problems using in vitro preparations that allow us to examine how single cells in the auditory cortex and auditory brainstem operate to integrate synaptic input, generate precisely timed action potentials, and adapt to changes in sensory input produced by hearing loss. This has involved investigations into the kinds of ion channels expressed in particular subsets of cells, determination of the kinetics and voltage dependence of those channels, studies of synaptic transmission, and the generation of computational models that reflect our current understanding of how these cells operate and produce responses to acoustic stimuli. A longstanding interest has been in the types of processing that take place in the elaborate network of cells in cerebral cortex. The structure and function of neurons in the auditory cortex depends extensively on sensory experience. We are now studying the functional spatial organization of auditory cortical neural networks at the level of connections between classes individual cells, using optical methods in normal mice and mice with noise-induced hearing loss.
The laboratory is equipped to execute a wide range of techniques, including patch clamp to study ion channels and synaptic function, single-cell calcium imaging, glutamate uncaging and network mapping, optogenetics, two-photon imaging in live and fixed tissue, in vivo evaluation of auditory function, acoustic startle, and some molecular biology. Our primary work uses acute brain slices from rats and mice. We also use computational techniques to help understand the relation between channel function and cellular physiology, and between cellular physiology, synaptic transmission and synaptic dynamics, to elucidate the network behaviors that emerge from dynamically active and nonlinear neurons and synapses.