How do we recognize sounds?
Specialized neurons in the auditory system are activated by some sounds but not by others. We are interested to identify the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for this. We mainly investigate this in the auditory cortex, the inferior colliculus and the medial superior olive.
Two ongoing projects are:
(1) The medial superior olive (MSO) is the first nucleus where inputs from both ears meet. Neurons in the MSO act as coincidence detectors: if excitatory inputs from both ears arrive within a narrow temporal window, the EPSPs will sum and the neuron will fire. We investigate the specializations that allow these cells to do this with such precision, including the developmental processes that enable the matching of the properties of the inputs from both ears.
(2) The inferior colliculus integrates inputs from the brainstem auditory nuclei. Using in vivo multielectrode, patch clamp recordings and two-photon calcium imaging, we study how the integration of synaptic inputs by the cells in the inferior colliculus determines their tuning properties, and we study whether a change in their firing properties underlies tinnitus.
We welcome enquiries about possible internships by enthusiastic masters students!