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.

Dominique Pritchett
Howard University

I am interested in understanding the neural mechanism that underlie simple associative learning behaviors.  In particular, I focus on the cerebellum, where much is understood about how mechanisms of synaptic plasticity contribute to the association of a stimulus with a behavioral response.  The goal of my research is to understand how the cerebellar circuit contributes to associative behaviors more generally by exploring the functional connections between the cerebellum and the neocortex and the basal ganglia.



Eric M. Klein
Brown University

My interest is in understanding how neural codes represent physiological information. My research aims to understand how perivascular neurons in neocortex respond to cerebrovascular dynamics. I utilize tactile stimulation, optogenetic vascular manipulation, and two-color intravital multi-photon calcium imaging to investigate the effects that altering vascular dynamics has on local neural activity.



Ian More
Brown University

Ian More is a fourth-year graduate student in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at Brown University.  He received his B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University in 2014 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Christopher Moore’s lab at Brown.  For his doctoral thesis, Ian studies inhibitory interneuron subtypes in the primary somatosensory and visual cortices of mice and the ways in which these inhibitory circuits predict successful sensory detection.   He is also a member of the Bioluminescence Hub at Brown, where he supports the development of bioluminescent research tools, including bioluminescent-optogenetics.   In his free time Ian enjoys playing guitar, exercising, and teaching brain science to children with his elementary school brain science workshop, BrainStation.