Winship Distinguished Research Professor (2014-2017)
Neural coding, computational neuroscience, cortex, sensory systems, social behavior, learning/memory and motivation, neuroethology
The Computational Neuroethology lab investigates the neural mechanisms underlying natural social behaviors. We are interested in questions ranging from how neural circuits transform social cues into behavioral responses, what plasticity arises within those circuits as the meaning of social cues is acquired, and how that plasticity may be mediated by mechanisms driving social reward. We pursue these issues using two model systems where forms of learning occur in natural social contexts. The first is acoustic communication in mice, using a maternal model wherein mothers acquire recognition for the ultrasonic vocalizations of pups. The second system we study is social bonding in prairie voles. Our lab utilizes a variety of techniques, including single-unit and local field potential electrophysiology in awake rodents (mice and prairie voles), multielectrode array electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, fluorescent in situ hybridization and behavioral analysis. We also make extensive use of computational methods to analyze and model neural data.