The dynamic and fundamentally non-linear brain is a statistical inference engine that’s constantly looking for change and learning from the past to interpret the future. So to better understand the complex neural activity patterns in the brain, we conduct experiments that analyze its memory, learning and computation. Using and improving research methods in neuroimaging, high-throughput genomics, optical imaging and metabolomics, we lay the foundation for advanced engineering techniques to be applied to neural circuits that mitigate disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and depression.
Relying on models of the brain to understand functional connections, multisensory integration and impairment, we design and build systems and devices that interact with complex neural circuits. Our focus is on optimizing deep brain stimulation (DBS)—a technique used to treat a number of neurological disorders that presently involves exposing unaffected portions of the brain to great risk of damage. We aim to organize a refined protocol for deep brain stimulation that targets the area of the brain impacted by the disorder—thereby mitigating the harmful effects of DBS and maximizing its therapeutic benefit for a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and essential tremor.
Inspired by nanotechnology like you’d find in the computer technology industry, we build advanced tools to interface with the brain. Developing technologies that read and write activity in the individual neurons and specific neural populations, we’re uncovering how the activities of neurons and the circuits in the brain influence human behavior. Through our research, we’re advancing treatment options for disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder by determining ways to selectively inhibit the recall of the long-term memory storage of traumatic events.
Just like a route outlined on a road map, neurons follow various pathways through the brain. We study complex functional entities of interconnected neurons called neural circuits to trace the circuitry of neural pathways—looking specifically at how types of brain cells influence perception, memory and behavior. By developing ways to non-invasively modulate neural activity using magnetic fields that can penetrate deep into the brain, the aim of our research is to potentially predict or prevent neural diseases or disorders.