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, in vivo fiber photometry and electrophysiology, 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 relationships.

The first few days of the module will comprise exercises that teach the basic principles and techniques of behavioral testing, in vivo single unit and local field potential recording, fiber photometry, 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.


 Jimmie Gmaz

I am interested in the neural dynamics that support decision-making. In the van der Meer lab, I study how coordinated neural activity within the nucleus accumbens contributes to the efficient pursuit of goals. I utilize in vivo electrophysiological techniques to record the spiking activity of neurons while rats engage in a variety of behaviors, and use statistical models to correlate various components of behavior with the neural data.



 Anne Krok
NYU School of Medicine

I am an MD/PhD student at NYU interested in the neural circuits underlying movement and how neuromodulation influences behavior. In the Tritsch Lab, I utilize a combination of fiber photometry, one-photon and two-photon calcium imaging, and in vivo electrophysiology to study neural activity within the dorsolateral striatum. I am looking forward to taking part in the Neural Systems & Behavior course this summer.




 Anna Marek
University of Dundee

I am currently finishing a Master’s degree in computing at the University of Dundee. I am interested in techniques allowing us to explore the brain activity and in computational data analysis methods. I have used in vivo electrophysiology to look at changes occurring in the brain due to neurodegeneration caused by Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease. I have also investigated cognitive flexibility and reinforcement learning in rodents using touchscreens at the University of Cambridge.