Somatosensory Module


In this cycle we will explore sensory coding in the rodent vibrissa (whisker) tactile sensory system through a broad range of techniques and experimental designs.  Two rigs will focus on activity in primary somatosensory (“barrel”) cortex of anesthetized rats during vibrissa or cortical electrical stimulation, using in vivo whole cell recordings of synaptic and spiking responses in rat.  Two other rigs will investigate neural activity in the thalamus and cortex using whole-cell and juxtacellular recording approaches.

Somatosensory Module Faculty and Teaching Assistants

BrechtMichael Brecht
Humboldt University Berlin

We pursue research questions from a strictly systemic, neuroethological perspective. We pose a wide range of questions to understand better the systemic performance of active touch mediated by the vibrissae. We therefore investigate multiple brain structures and our investigations range from intracellular recordings to the analysis of behavioral performance. Michael has been an NS&B faculty member in 2006-2008 and since 2014.


adesnikh_275_325Hillel Adesnik
UC Berkeley

11074718_1510925989229562_732329435708949358_nAnn Clemens
Humboldt University Berlin

I am interested in how socio-sexual behavior is represented in the brain at a cell physiological level. In my current research project, I am investigating how hormonal fluctuations in female rats influence cortical activity and the cellular response to social facial touch. Ann joined the somatosensory team in 2016.

Alex Nakaalex-naka
UC Berkeley

I’m a graduate student training with Hillel Adesnik at UC Berkeley. I’m interested in how synaptic inhibition contributes to sensory computation in the mouse barrel cortex. For my current project, I’m focused on understanding how various classes of inhibitory interneurons integrate into the synaptic circuitry of the barrel cortex, as well as how these inhibitory circuits influence sensory processing. This will be Alex’s first year on the somatosensory team.




Benjamin Shababo
UC Berkeley

Ben Shababo is finishing his third year as a graduate student at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. Ben works with both Hillel Adesnik and Liam Paninski to develop a method to physiologically map large portions of neural circuits at single neuron resolution. Before neuroscience, Ben worked in NYC as a film editor and post-production technician. Benjamin joined the somatosensory team in 2017.