The brain is an astonishingly complex organ, and is perhaps the furthest beyond our current comprehension. Understanding how the brain processes data is one of the largest outstanding research questions today, and many novel tools are needed to gain even a small insight as to how neurons integrate inputs and 'decide' when to fire, how neural circuits contribute to cognition, how specialized brain regions such as the visual cortex perform their processing tasks and so on. Our laboratory primarily creates neurophotonic instruments; we use light to interrogate and control neuronal populations. Read about some of our current work here.
Recording from fluorescent voltage indicators
Currently we are working on ways to record the very subtle changes in fluorescence intensity which occur when a Genetically Encoded Voltage Indicator (GEVI) senses a change in neuronal membrane potential; this is done in collaboration with the Knopfel lab and the Schultz lab. Recent results (right) using calcium indicators in place of GEVIs show that the approach of restricting illumination to a small region can have significant improvements in the signal-to-background ratio.
Another ongoing project is to control the activity of dozens of individual neurons in 3D, using shaped light. More details will be available here, if and when the thing decides to start working.