Mrsic-Flogel Lab

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Functional connectivity

To uncover connectivity rules of cortical circuits, we map synaptic connections between functionally characterized neurons. We use two-photon calcium imaging to characterize functional properties of hundreds of neurons in intact brain, then use image registration to identify these neurons in slices cut from the same brain. With multiple whole-cell recordings we can measure synaptic connections between a subset of these neurons.

Long-range projections

After reaching the visual cortex, information is distributed to various brain areas involved in cognition and behavior. This distribution is mediated by long-range axonal projections of pyramidal neurons from visual cortex. To anatomically understand how visual information is segregated in the brain, we label neurons in visual cortex that project to different brain areas, and characterize their axonal projection patterns.

Modelling

Through modeling and simulation, we explore the mechanisms by which the cortex manipulates information. How are stimuli represented in cortex? How are inputs from nearby neurons combined to form more complex representations? Simulation allows us to make testable predictions for alternative hypotheses for cortical connectivity. By including experimental evidence in our models, we can understand why the cortex is configured how it is.

Behaviour & Physiology

Understanding the brain in action ultimately requires us to study the activity of large populations of neurons in awake animals as they are performing complex behaviours. We achieve this by combining 2 photon calcium imaging in head-fixed mice while they are running on a wheel through a virtual-reality environment. We can also identify specific components of these neural circuits, such as interneuron sub-types.

Techniques

At the Mrsic-Flogel lab we use a wide range of techniques including extra-cellular electrophysiology, patch-clamping, in vivo 2-photon imaging, optogenetics, wide-field functional imaging, behavior, anatomy, and the construction of custom hardware and microscopes.