My primary research interests are to understand how patterns of neuronal activity encode for sensory stimuli and how this activity ultimately guides behavior. Using electrophysiology, imaging, and computational methods, I address these questions both in in vivo murine models, and well as in vitro cultures of human induced-Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) derived neurons. I look forward to working with students who are interested in quantitative and computational approaches to neuroscience, including those with experimental interests in electrophysiology, behavior and imaging and those with theoretical interests in dynamics and information processing and look forward to taking rotation students in the Fall of 2016.
Project 1: The Role of Feedback Circuits in Shaping Sensory Perception
We have recently identified a direct feedback connection from the ventral CA1 region of the hippocampus to the main olfactory bulb 2 synapses from where olfactory information is first detected. Ventral CA1 is involved in encoding memory and learning, reward, social information and anxiety. The direct connections between these “higher order” representations and primary sensory regions suggest that sensory perception at the earliest stages may be modified and shaped by existing experience. How this occurs, what this means for the perception of odors, and ultimately how this affects behavior remains an open question.
Rotation Project 1a
Students interested in stress, anxiety and behavior will combine existing behavioral paradigms (an odor paired with a foot shock for instance) with novel viral tracing methods and imaging to identify CA1 feedback cells involved in encoding aversive experiences. Students working on this project will receive training in behavior, viral tracing methods, imaging, and image processing techniques.
Rotation Project 1b
Students interested in understanding how CA1 projections shape olfactory perception will develop the skills to perform in vivo multi-unit recordings in the main olfactory bulb coupled with optogenetic control of feedback projections. Students working on this project will receive training in in vivo electrophysiology, analysis of neural activity, and optogenetic methods.
Project 2: Analysis of the Dynamics of Large Scale Neural Networks
We have collected multi-unit electrophysiology recordings from large networks of neurons both in vitro and in vivo including from neurons reprogrammed from patient populations. These spontaneous activity recordings reflect the internal dynamics of neuronal networks, and reveal important links between properties of network architecture and the dynamic evolution of patterns of neuronal activity. What remains unknown is how the dynamics of networks are connected to the architecture of those networks, and how these two features are altered in neurological and psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.
Rotation Project 2a
Students interested in statistical methods for data analysis, analyzing networks of neurons, and computational approaches to neuroscience will have the chance to quantify and classify patterns of activity from large scale neural networks. Students working on this project will receive training in data analysis and methods for analyzing patterns of neuronal activity using information theory.
For more information please contact Dr. Padmanabhan.