Neural Circuits underlying Social Behaviors
Rodents, like humans, spend a considerable amount of time engaging in social interactions. Social behavior is inherently complex and variable, and is driven by an extraordinarily intricate network of brain circuits - which poses experimental and analytical challenges. Combining modern neural dissection techniques, novel behavioral paradigms and analytical methods our lab is well poised to overcome these challenges. We propose to take advantage of and further develop these tools to understand how the brain represents social sensory information and how this information is transformed to enable appropriate social behaviors. In particular, we are interested in elucidating neural mechanisms that support social recognition (the ability to identify conspecifics). We hope to identify brain regions involved in social recognition and delineating when and how activity in these areas allow animals to discriminate between conspecifics.
Our experimental techniques include cellular resolution imaging, electrophysiology, optogenetics, viral intersectional strategies and quantitative behavioral analysis.