Our laboratory is currently focused on understanding the circuit mechanisms that regulate the plasticity of the visual cortex. We employ a combination of techniques including in vivo two-photon functional imaging and patch-clamp recordings, the transplantation of neuronal precursors, visual behavioral training and mouse genetic tools that identify, stimulate and silence defined neural circuits.
Currently, the laboratory is focused on two main scientific questions:
How does the transplantation of inhibitory neurons reactivate plasticity in the visual cortex?
We recently discovered that the transplantation of embryonic inhibitory neurons activates a period of plasticity after the decline of the normal critical period (Southwell et al, 2010). Currently, we are investigating the functional and anatomical maturation of the transplanted inhibitory circuits to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying cortical plasticity.
How does the practice of visual tasks shape the microcircuitry of the visual cortex?
We are developing novel methods to better understand how sensory training shapes cortical circuits. Using mouse genetic techniques we are investigating how visual tasks modify identified cortical circuits using two-photon functional imaging in awake, behaving mice.