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.


 nic-tritschNicolas Tritsch
NYU Medical Center

Nicolas Tritsch is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology and a member of the Neuroscience Institute and Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders at NYU Langone Health. Prior to this, Nic trained at McGill, Johns Hopkins and Harvard Medical School. His lab combines optical, genetic and physiological approaches in brain slices as well as in vivo to reveal how brain circuits that control voluntary movements orchestrate the initiation, execution and learning of motor actions, and how motor disorders like Parkinson’s disease corrupt these processes. His studies currently focus on elucidating how midbrain dopaminergic neurons modulate the activity of different target neurons in the striatum through the release of multiple transmitters.


JamesEricCarmichaelEric Carmichael

I am in the final year of my PhD at Dartmouth College in Matt van der Meer’s lab.  My graduate research has focused on the origins of oscillations in the neural activity within the ventral striatum and how these oscillations relate to spiking patterns.  I primarily use in vivo  electrophyiology to study these oscillations in rats as they engage in reward seeking behaviours. Prior to joining the van der Meer lab I studied the rodent spatial navigation system at NTNU.

Eric was a TA for the NS&B hippocampus module in 2015 and 2016.



soon-songSoomin Song
NYU Medical Center
Soomin went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his undergraduate education and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at San Antonio under the tutelage of Dr. Charles Wilson.  There he studied how intrinsic properties of striatal interneurons modulate inputs based on the input frequency through the mechanism of membrane resonance.  He is now currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at New York University Langone Medical Center in the lab of Dr. Nicolas Tritsch.  Here he is studying the role of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in learning and motivated behavior.