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.



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.




cadChris Deister
Brown University

The goal of my work is to understand how functional circuits between the neocortex, basal ganglia and thalamus drive, and are shaped by, goal-directed sensory behaviors. I study how context-dependent sensory representations emerge from the dynamical properties of single neurons and large neuronal populations in somatosensory areas by combining a variety of computational and experimental approaches.

hyeyoung-shinHyeyoung Shin
Brown University

My research questions are centered around thalamocortical computations underlying perception. I am using system neuroscience methodology to address these questions, primarily extracellular electrophysiology, optogenetics and head-fixed mouse behavior. I am also skilled in in-vivo functional imaging (both 1-photon widefield and 2-photon microscopy) and computational neuroscience. By employing a complement of these tools, I hope to better understand how sensory information is encoded within and across the sensory hierarchy to manifest as a percept.


arif_headshotArif Hamid
Brown University

I am broadly interested in brain computations for flexible behavioral-control and learning. I have especially focused on the neurotransmitter dopamine and cortico-basal ganglia mechanisms for reward-learning and motivational vigor. In my current research, I combine multiple approaches to deeply understanding the anatomical, temporal and computational organization of decision-circuits.