The goal of Dr. Apicella’s lab is to reveal the neural basis of perception. More specifically, he wants to understand exactly how cortical microcircuits process sensory information to drive behavior. To assess how populations of neurons concur to encode information, generate perceptions, and execute behavioral decisions requires working at both the cellular and system level. Towards this goal, by turning neurons "ON" and "OFF" using optogenetic and pharmacogenetic approaches, the lab can monitor and then manipulate specific subsets of neurons in awake behaving mice.
This approach will allow the lab to quantitatively determine how specific subsets of neurons contribute to sensory processing and behavior. By complementing in vivo work with synaptic connectivity and network dynamics analysis in vitro, they are going to achieve a more complete understanding for how neural circuits in our brain support sensation, action, and cognition.