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In the Briggs laboratory, we are interested in understanding how specific and identified cortical circuits encode information about the visual world. We also examine how attention impacts the way in which visual information is encoded by neurons and circuits. We use a variety of technical approaches including multi-electrode array recordings in alert and behaving animals trained on attention-demanding tasks and combination of multi-electrode array recordings with optogenetics to record and manipulate the activity of select neuronal populations in intact animals. In order to match neurophysiological recordings to identified neurons and circuits, we perform histology and reconstruct the anatomical structure of recorded and labeled neurons.

The following rotation projects are available in my laboratory:

  1. Optogenetic manipulation of corticogeniculate neurons in vivo to examine the function of corticogeniculate feedback in visual processing. Project involves surgical injection of virus to drive expression of optogenetic proteins in target neurons followed by neurophysiological recording experiments. Histological processing of tissue is the final experimental step. Data analysis involves spike sorting and generating tuning curves for recorded neurons. Additional data analysis includes morphological reconstruction of labeled neurons.

  2. Multi-electrode array recordings in the visual thalamus and primary visual cortex of alert and behaving animals performing attention-demanding tasks. Project involves daily recordings in behaving animals from arrays inserted daily and/or chronically implanted. Data analysis involves spike sorting and analysis of tuning and attentional modulation of recorded neurons. Local field potentials are also recorded in multiple brain structures and signal processing techniques are utilized to analyze amplitude and phase relationships between simultaneously recorded signals.

  3. Analysis of large datasets including recordings from the visual thalamus and primary visual cortex across attention conditions, or with and without optogenetic manipulation of corticogeniculate feedback. Data is already collected and uniform analyses are applied to each dataset. Project involves spike sorting and analysis of tuning data as well as analyses of local field potentials for spike-field relationships. Computational modeling of individual neuron or local field potential interactions is also feasible for students with expertise in computer science.
  4. Morphological reconstruction of virus-labeled neurons in tissue sections. Data is already collected and uniform reconstruction techniques are applied to gather morphological data from labeled neurons in a variety of brain structures.