We investigate the neural mechanisms controlling movements, with a particular focus on the impact of neuronal connectivity patterns within and across brain areas. Classically, movement generation is studied with single and multi-electrode recordings in motor cortex. We combine this approach with two additional tools: with optogenetic and electrical stimulation tools we influence neural activity and define their impact on motor behavior. This allows singling out elements and stimulation patterns which are needed for complex movements. The interaction between tactile perception, cognitive processing, and movement generation are crucial in this process. We therefore combine these aspects in behavioral tests and simultaneously measure neural activity electrophysiologically and stimulate optogenetically. With this approach we aim to understand basic principles of movement generation and ultimately to advance the design of neural prostheses.
What is the minimal unit which needs to get activated to evoke a complex movement? Which cell types are particularly involved in a movement? In which order do they have to get recruited?How do electrical and optical stimulation impact neural tissue and motor behavior?
How are complex sensory stimuli and motor commands … encoded on a population level?
… encoded in networks of brain areas?
How can we use this knowledge to advance neuroprosthetics?
Optogenetics, Electrophysiology, Behavioral tests, Molecular Biology and Neuroengineering
Ongoing Research Projects
1. Bioengineering: Advance optogenetics for non-transgenic animals.
2. Systems Neuroscience: Dissect the diverse functionality of sensory-motor loops by modulating projections between involved brain areas.
3. Computational Biology: Investigate the influence of local perturbations on neural populations
- Investigate the influence of context on the performance of decoding algorithms.
- Selectively target specific projections and cells types to evoke a naturalistic sensation of touch.