Mouse Striatum Module

This cycle will explore the circuitry and function of the striatum, and its interaction with the dopamine system, in the context of reinforcement learning in mice. We will use several synergistic preparations, including patch clamp in brain slices, acute recordings in vivo, and behavior in awake behaving mice to probe (1) how motivationally relevant stimuli and the outcomes they predict are encoded in the striatum, and (2) the plasticity mechanisms that underlie associative learning of these relation

The first few days of the cycle will comprise exercises that teach the basic principles and techniques of behavioral testing, in vivo single unit and local field potential recording, optogenetic manipulation of neural activity, and patch clamp. These exercises form the basis for research projects that address a specific question about the relationship between striatal neural activity and/or synaptic function and reinforcement learning. An important component of this cycle is the visualization and analysis of neural recording data, which will be taught alongside data management and coding best practices.


Mouse Faculty and Teaching Assistants

mvdm_smallMatt van der Meer

I am interested in how neural activity in the brain relates to behavior, with particular focus on the interplay between learning, memory, and decision-making. In my lab, we use (a) experimental tools for the simultaneous and long-term recording of large numbers of neurons across multiple brain areas during specific behaviors, and (b) data analysis and computational modeling frameworks that draw on concepts and tools from statistics, machine learning, and related fields. Our work so far has focused primarily on the rodent hippocampus and ventral striatum, which display a rich set of neural activity patterns indicative of the prediction and evaluation of possible spatial trajectories for navigation. Matt was an NS&B student in 2005. He joined the mouse faculty in 2014.


AndreFenton1André Fenton
New York University

André Fenton, is a neuroscientist, biomedical engineer and entrepreneur working on three related problems: how brains store information in memory; how brains coordinate knowledge to selectively activate relevant information and suppress irrelevant information; and how to record electrical activity from brain cells in freely-moving subjects. André and colleagues identified PKMzeta as the first molecule demonstrated to be crucial for the persistence of memories, lasting at least a month. Recordings of electrical brain activity in André’s lab are elucidating the physiology of cognitive dysfunction that is a core feature in mental illness. We recently discovered that preemptive cognitive training during adolescence changes the brain sufficiently to prevent the adult brain dysfunction and cognitive impairments that arises from brain damage during early life in a schizophrenia-related animal model. André founded Bio-Signal Group Corp., which is developing an FDA-approved, inexpensive, miniature wireless EEG system for functional brain monitoring of patients in emergency medicine and other clinical scenarios where EEG is needed but impractical. André Fenton has been a Course Co-Director and mouse faculty member since 2013.

Alyssa Carey

Alyssa completed her graduate studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, and spent some time as a research assistant at Dartmouth College in the USA. During her time as a neuroscientist, she recorded from hippocampal place cells while rats were performing a motivational shift task. She is now working in the medical devices industry. Alyssa joined the mouse team in 2017.