Systems neuroscience at Cornell emcompasses studies of multiple sensory areas, learning and memory, behavioral pharmacology, social communication and coding.
Our strength lie in multi-displinary approaches. The areas of olfaction (Cleland, Lin, Johnston, Linster), neuro-endocrinology (Adkins-Regan, Johnston, Bass), social communication (Hoy, Hopfield, Bass, Adkins-Regan, Johnston, Cleland) and motor control (Harris-Warrick, Fetcho) are strongly represented within our faculty.
Research areas: Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Techniques: Manipulation and measurement of neuroendocrine (especially sex steroid) mechanisms, immunocytochemistry. Organisms used: Birds, especially zebra finches and Japanese quail Research interests: Neuroendocrine mechanisms of avian social behavior and social relationships, during development and in adulthood. Publications
Research areas: Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems, Neuroendocrinology Techniques: Electrophysiology, immunohsitochemistry, molecular biology Organisms used: Teleost Fishes Research interests: Research in our laboratory focuses on two projects concerning the central and peripheral nervous systems of sound-producing/"vocalizing" teleost fishes: 1) Characterization, and hormonal influences on, sex differences in the morphology of single, physiologically-identified neurons. 2) Temporal and spectral encoding of acoustic communication signals. These projects revolve around studies of alternative mating tactics in species with two male morphs that differ in a large suite of behavioral, neurobiological, and neuroendocrine characters including divergent acoustic courtship behaviors and vocal control pathways. We answer questions regarding the existence of behaviors and their underlying mechanisms using a multidisciplinary, neuroethological approach that combines field studies of vocal communication with laboratory studies of the nervous system that utilize one or more of the following approaches: neurophysiology combined with anatomical tract tracing, neuroendocrinology, electron microscopy, immunicytochemistry, and in situ hybridization
Research areas: Systems Neuroscience, Learning & Memory, Olfaction Techniques: Electrophysiology, theoretical/computational modeling, behavior, pharmacology Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: My resaerch concerns how complex cognitive and perceptual phenomena can arise from, and be regulated by, cellular and neural circuit properties. Primarily using the sense of smell (olfaction), my students, colleagues, and I ask how learning, memory, expectation, and like processes shape the transformations performed on sensory inputs by relatively peripheral (i.e., experimentally accessible) cortical circuitry, and how these different transformations in turn influence behavior and subsequent learning. We triangulate on these questions using a range of techniques including electrophysiology, pharmacology, behavior and behavior genetics, and biophysically constrained computational modeling. Publications
Research areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Bird song Tecniques: Behavior, IEG mapping, anatomical trcaing Organisms used: Zebrafinch Research interests: I'm interested in neurobiology of learning and memory. My lab studies this using song learning in songbirds, and spatial learning in food-caching birds. Recent findings include the following: 1) Female zebra finches require experience with song during development in order to select normal over poor (isolate) conspecific song. Such birds also have fewer synapses in a an auditory perceptual brain area (Lauay et al., 2004,2005) 2) Species with elaborate song repertoires have larger song production brain areas than those with smaller repertoires (Moore et al., in prep.) 3) Chickadees injected in the hippocampus with an NMDA blocker do not form a long term memory of a food site. A CB-1 blocker causes improved memory for one site--but with reduced ability to modify the memory (Shiflett et al., 2003,2004) 4) Simply housing a chickadee in the lab results in hippocampal shrinkage and reduced survival of new neurons over birds in the wild (Tarr et al., in prep).
Research areas: Motor control, neuronal networks, hindbrain, spinal cord, sleep, spinal injury and regeneration. Techniques used:Behavioral studies, studies of fluorescently labeled neurons and proteins in living fish, imaging of neuronal activity in live animals, and electrophysiological studies. Organisms used: Zebrafish Research interests: Our lab: 1) studies how movements are produced by the brain and spinal cord of vertebrates; 2) explores strategies to restore function after spinal injury; and 3) studies the events that occur in the nervous system during sleep. We mostly use zebrafish as a model system because they allow us to combine genetic and optical methods with more conventional physiological approaches to attack the problems of interest to us.
Research areas: Development and evolution of the brain and visual system Techniques: Neuroanatomical techniques applied to development, quantitative microscopy, database management and modeling. Organisms used: Various mammals Research interests: Evo-devo and the evolution of the brain, perception and cognition. Publications
Research areas: Systems and Computational Neuroscience, Motor Control and Learning Techniques:Single unit recordings of identified cell classes in small, freely moving animals, optogenetic and pharmacological manipulations of neural activity during behavior, two photon calcium imaging, intracellular electrophysiology, computational modeling and analysis. Organisms used: Songbirds
Research interests: I seek to understand how the basal ganglia brain circuit contributes to motor learning and behavior. My central hypothesis is that the basal ganglia implement reinformcement learning to mediate the acquisition of learned motor skills.
Research areas: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, neural networks, central pattern generators, computational, motor networks, spinal cord Techniques: Electrophysiology, in vitro, imaging, immunocytochemistry, molecular biology, modeling. Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: We study the cellular and synaptic interactions of neural networks for simple behaviors. We focus on Central Pattern Generators, which organize rhythmic movements such as locomotion and respiration. Our current focus is on the mouse spinal locomotor CPG. We have three major projects: 1) Identify the interneurons that are components of the locomotor CPG, and their synaptic interconnections, using transgenic mice expressing fluorescent and other markers; 2) Study how neuromodulators such as serotonin modify the properties of the CPG neurons and connections, to allow flexibility in the motor pattern the network generates; 3) Study the consequences of spinal cord injury on network interneurons and their synapses, which undergo homeostatic changes following the loss of descending synaptic inputs from the brain. Our work is primarily electrophysiological and immunocytochemical; we collaborate with mathematicians to generate and study models of network function.
Research areas: Animal communication, neural coding, evolution of electrogenesis Techniques: Electrophysiology, molecular biology Organisms used: Electric fish Research interests: Our lab is broadly interested in neuroethology - the neural basis of animal behavior. We study mechanisms of animal communication including signal production, signal localization, and neural mechanisms for signal recognition. The focus is on the electrosensory modality of weakly electric fish.
Research areas: Auditory Neurosciences, Animal Communication, Comparative Bioacoustics, Comparative Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuroethology Techniques: Neural recordings in semi-intact and intact nervous systems at the network level, field and lab recordings of acoustical signals during communication acts, neurohistology. Organisms used: Animals that use acoustic signals for communication or predator/prey detection; mosquitoes, crickets, drosophila, and many other insects. Research interests: Animal communication including human speech and sign; Neural/brain basis of animal and human perception; Multimodal sensory perception and neural processing. Publications
Research areas: Animal Behavior, mechanisms of social behavior, olfactory communication, social recognition and memory Techniques: Behavioral pharmacology Organisms used: Hamster Research interests: Animal behavior and mechanisms of social behavior; olfactory communication, especially in mammals; social recognition and memory (kin recognition, individual recognition, and recognition of sex, species and social status); sense of smell and the neural and hormonal mechanisms of behavior; central nervous system mechanisms of social recognition and memory; scent marking and especially scent over-marking as a sexually selected trait; field studies of social communication and social organization (presently on ground squirrels); cognitive approaches to social behavior in animals. Publications
Research areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience Techniques: Computational modeling, behavioral pharamcology, in vivo electrophysiology Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: Neural coding and memory in the olfactory system; emphasis on neuromodulatory influences; combined approach using behavior, electrophysiology and computational modeling. Publications
Research areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Behavioral Ecology, Cognitive Ecology Techniques used:Behavioral observation and manipulation in the lab and field, cellular neurochemistry, molecular biology Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: Research in my lab explores the relationships between existing individual variation in genes, brain and social behavior. We seek to identify the causal role of nonapeptides (oxytocin and vasopressin) on monogamous behavior, mating decisions, alternative reproductive tactics, and socio-spatial memory in both the field and lab through in vivo manipulation of early life experience, social context, and adult nonapeptide receptor expression. We also aim to understand the influence of nonapeptides on paternal behavior and the developmental consequences on offspring. A second line of developing research explores the natural variation in mating, exploratory, cognitive, and stress-coping behavior of African giant pouched rats, and the relation of these to genomic/transcriptomic variation.
Research areas: Behavioral neuroscience, behaving animal recordings, hippocampal coding, context representation, learning and memory. Techniques: Electrophysiology, behavioral pharmacology Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: My research falls into the broad category of the neural mediation of learning and memory. It has become increasingly clear that complex cognitive functions arise from the interactions of multiple interconnected brain regions that comprise functional circuits. Therefore, I have adopted a systems level approach which involves simultaneously monitoring the neuronal activity in several interconnected brain regions during learning in rodents. This approach is especially powerful when combined with injections of micro-quantities of chemical inactivating agents directly into discrete brain regions in order to temporarily ‘knock out’ individual components of the circuit. In this way, the functioning of the healthy and temporarily ‘damaged’ circuits can be compared and the behavioral consequences of the damage can be assessed. Behavior is the cornerstone of this approach, so neuronal activity is monitored throughout learning using well-controlled training procedures. Changes in neuronal response patterns can then be specifically associated with learning and learning impairments can be attributed to damage within the circuit and the resulting disruption of neuronal response patterns.
Research areas: Cognitive neuroscience Techniques: MRI (Structural and functional brain imaging), behavioral testing Organisms used: Humans Research interests: My research examines large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition. Currently, I am investigating the link between autobiography and imagination, how we conceive of the future, and successful navigation of the social world. These investigations extend to the related processes of memory, cognitive control, and social cognition and the interacting brain networks that support them. I am also actively involved in the development and implementation of multivariate and network-based statistical approaches to assess brain activity. In doing so, I hope to better understand the properties of the brain networks underlying complex cognitive processes as they change across the lifespan.
Research areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Nutrition Organisms used: Rodents Research interests:Strupp’s research primarily deals with causes of human cognitive dysfunction, studies that involve both children and rodent models. The goals of the animal studies are to determine the nature and underlying neural basis of the cognitive dysfunction, with implications for therapeutic intervention and for elucidating basic brain-cognition relationships. Current projects (described below) pertain to mouse models of Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, rodent and non-human primate models of childhood lead exposure, and a murine model of genetic and dietary alterations in folate status. Two human studies, one ongoing and one in the planning stages, pertain to the lasting cognitive effects of prenatal choline supplementation.
Research areas: Systems and computational neuroscience; cognitive neuroscience; motivation and reward; learning and memory; psychiatric disease models. Techniques: Optogenetics, awake behaving neurophysiology, patch clamp electrophysiology, behavior, imaging, molecular biology, pharmacology, immunohistochemistry, computational modeling and analysis. Organisms used: Rodents Research interests: Our lab investigates the neural circuitry underlying complex cognition and behavior, with a focus on circuits mediating reward, motivation, and learning and memory. We study these systems with both an observational and causal approach, combining monitoring and decoding of neural activity with optical control of genetically and topologically defined circuit elements. We are interested in both normal circuit function and dysfunction in psychiatric disease models. Systems of particular interest include the prefrontal cortex and its communication with neuromodulatory and limbic regions. Publications Warden lab site