Mouse Module

This module focuses on the dynamics of neural activity in the cortex and hippocampus of behaving mice. Both of these brain structures exhibit rich, highly organized activity, including distinct brain states and predictable transitions between them, oscillations at multiple interrelated spatial and temporal scales, and even spontaneous “replay” of previous experiences. These neural dynamics interact with neuromodulators to implement fundamental processes such as gain control and state-dependence that ultimately underlie complex behaviors. 

 

Depending on your interests, in the first few days of the module you will be introduced to (1) wide-field calcium imaging of inhibitory and excitatory activity across the cortex of head-fixed behaving mice; (2) neural ensemble recording in hippocampus of freely moving mice using silicon probes (field potentials and units), and (3) fiber photometry to measure dopamine levels, separately or simultaneously with (2). Whatever you choose, the data sets you will collect will be large and complex, and the majority of your time in the second half of the module will be devoted to data processing and analysis.

 

In head-fixed mice, possible projects include 1) characterizing the state-dependent changes in long-range cortical circuits during spontaneous behaviors (assessed by pupil, facial motion, locomotion, grooming, sleep, etc), 2) comparisons of the spatiotemporal patterns of excitatory and inhibitory activity across the cortex, and 3) the cortical impact of pharmacological manipulations of cholinergic or noradrenergic signaling.

 

In freely moving mice, possible projects include characterizing (1) the relationship between the activity of “place cells” in the hippocampus to performance on the task, (2) the relationship between extracellular DA and behavior, and (3) the connection between hippocampal activity and DA.

 

Mouse Faculty and Teaching Assistants

mvdm_smallMatt van der Meer
Dartmouth

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.

Jessica Cardin
Yale University

My lab works on the development, function, and dysfunction of local and large-scale cortical circuits.  We have a long-standing interest in the roles of the diverse cortical GABAergic neurons.  Jessica was an NS&B student in the summer of 2000.

 

Jeff Stott
Dartmouth

Hi, my name is Jeff. I obtained my PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota, where I made neural recordings in the cortex and striatum of rats performing a decision-making task. I then moved to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and am now a post-doc with Matt van der Meer, studying spatial navigation and the head-direction circuit in mice. Besides electrophysiology, I enjoy playing tennis, running 5k races, birdwatching, and exploring New England.

Hung-tu Chen
Dartmouth

I am a graduate student working with Matt van der Meer at Dartmouth College. My research interest focuses on how the brain encodes experiences in different contexts so that a learned experience from an old context can be generalized to a new one. I am also interested in understanding the role of hippocampal replay in learning and memory. Outside of the lab, I enjoy sipping, brewing and understanding every detail about coffee.

 

 

 

Andrew Moberly
Yale

Hi! I’m Andrew, a postdoc working with Jess Cardin and Mike Higley at Yale. Here, we use a variety of in vivo optical imaging techniques to investigate cortical activity at multiple spatial scales. Before joining the group, I did my graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania where I investigated the effect of respiratory signals from the olfactory system on neural activity elsewhere in the brain. I’m a big fan of any podcast that can make me laugh- especially ones that poke fun at terrible movies