How do neurons communicate perceptual information?
Vision is an active process. We look at things that catch our attention or that are rewarding. It happens to us that we don’t perceive events, although they happen right in front of our eye and are seen by everyone. While it is clear that visual decisions are fundamental to our everyday experience, their underlying brain mechanisms are far from being fully understood. Research in the Schmid lab aims to establish how behaviorally relevant visual information is selected and communicated between connected brain areas. To this end we use modern experimental tools, such as optogenetics, to disentangle complex brain circuits and investigate neuronal communication principles between their components. Current projects aim to delineate how perceptual information is transmitted between thalamus and visual cortex, and how rhythmic spiking activity can arise in cortex.
How does the brain adapt to learning and injury?
Stroke and traumatic brain injury severely compromise the lives of affected individuals and provide significant challenges for medicine. In our lab we study the changes that occur in the visual brain following neuronal injuries and during perceptual learning. We try to understand brain reorganization or plasticity at multiple levels ranging from large-scale areal assessment to measurements of individual neurons. We combine these methods with electrical or optogenetic stimulation of brain tissue to promote and understand brain plasticity and behavioral recovery. We have investigated extensively how neurons in association cortex adapt to injury of primary visual cortex.