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Yao Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Neuroscience

We aim to uncover the spatiotemporal dynamics of molecular signals, and investigates how these features contribute to sleep, learning, and functions of neuromodulators – chemicals made in the brain with profound effects on cellular physiology and animal behavior. We achieve our research objectives by imaging and manipulating, in live brain slices and freely moving mice, intracellular signals with high spatial resolution and temporal precision. We combine these approaches with molecular, cellular, developmental, biochemical, and electrophysiological approaches. In addition to the biology exploration, we also further our research by developing new molecular tools (biosensors, actuators) as well as engineering new instruments.

Research keywords: neuromodulator; sleep; imaging

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Tom Franken, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Neuroscience

The overarching theme of our research is to understand how brain circuits parse incoming visual information into meaningful collections of objects. This is critical to interact with the world around us.
To study this question, we use behavioral, electrophysiological, optical and viral targeting approaches in non-human primates.

Research keywords: vision; electrophysiology; non-human primates

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Linda Richards, PhD

Edison Professor and Department Head, Neuroscience

Our laboratory investigates the development of the cerebral cortex and the formation of commissural connections between the two hemispheres of the brain, in particular the development of the corpus callosum. We work with people that have corpus callosum dysgenesis to understand the genetic and developmental causes of these disorders and how they affect cognitive outcome. We also study mouse models of corpus callosum dysgenesis and are studying how brain activity first emerges in the cerebral cortex of a small marsupial called a fat-tailed dunnart. We study mechanisms that regulate brain wiring and how these underpin behavior and cognition.

Research keywords: cerebral cortex; brain development; developmental disorders

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Paul Shaw, PhD

Professor, Neuroscience

The Shaw laboratory uses the genetic model organism Drosophila melanogaster to elucidate the molecular mechanisms linking sleep to neuronal plasticity. The lab has demonstrated that we can fully restore cognitive functioning to a diverse set of classic memory mutants simply by enhancing their sleep. In these experiments, sleep was able to reverse cognitive deficits without restoring the causal molecular lesion or structural defect. In addition sleep reversed cognitive deficits in two separate models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Research keywords: Sleep; plasticity; circadian

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Gaia Tavoni, PhD

Assistant Professor, Neuroscience

Our lab focuses on theoretical and computational neuroscience. We investigate the fundamental physical principles that underlie brain function, from sensing the environment to forming memories and making decisions.

Research keywords: theoretical neuroscience, statistical physics; optimal coding, memory; decision making

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