How do the responses of neurons encode complex stimuli and drive behavior? A key challenge is scale. An animal encounters many different stimuli, and can respond to each in many different ways. The neural representation often involves large populations of neurons with a diversity of types.
The scale of our experimental approaches is also growing. It is possible to monitor the activity of thousands of neurons in awake animals, and to tightly control stimuli and behavior in real time. How do we leverage these approaches to uncover the principles of neural coding? Computation is crucial. It lets us model and interpret the functional relationship between stimulus, neuronal response, and behavior. By closing the loop between computation and experiment, we can design stimuli and manipulations that directly and efficiently test hypotheses about neural coding.
Before coming to Janelia, my research focused on the visual system of the primate. Working at multiple levels with multiple techniques—from the retina to extra-striate cortex, using physiology and behavior—I elucidated key principles of visual processing. In the cortex, I identified novel forms of visual encoding using controlled, naturalistic stimuli, and in the retina, I characterized nonlinearities in ganglion cells using large-scale model fitting and closed-loop stimulus delivery.
At Janelia, I am combining my computational approaches to data analysis and experimental design with the rich variety of tools available in genetic model organisms, spanning a range of species and modalities.
As of May 22, 2013