The human brain contains about 86 billion neurons of various types, which are the basic functional units of neural circuits that process information. The mainstay of neurophysiology research has been eavesdropping on more and more of these neurons, in order to understand the way they transform their inputs into their outputs, in other words, the computation they perform. For this task, it is crucial to develop the right probes that maximize the information we can gain from neurons while minimize the damage they may introduce.
Our overarching goal is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying cognition, focusing on learning, memory, attention and decision making. I will showcase rodent experiments to study neurons that contribute to associative learning using electrophysiological recordings and optogenetic stimulation in awake behaving transgenic mice. Next, I will demonstrate how recording techniques can be introduced to human patients to gather first hand data on the internal workings of the human brain in health and disease in order to understand how normal cognition works as well as the ways it may go awry.