Research in our lab focuses on how the brain produces intelligent, rational, behavior. At the center of intelligent behavior is executive control – our ability to internally guide our actions towards a goal.
The goal of our research is to understand how the brain accomplishes such control. It is becoming increasingly clear that such complex, cognitive, behaviors arise through the interactions between many brain regions. In particular, three brain regions -- prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, and the basal ganglia -- are at the center of executive control. The aim of our laboratory is to understand the roles of these brain regions in executive control and how complex behavior arises through their interactions (both with each other and with the rest of the brain).
To pursue this line of research we take a multidisciplinary approach: we begin by designing behavioral tasks that isolate particular cognitive functions and then combine these with large-scale, multiple-electrode electrophysiology and optogenetic control of neural circuits. Not only does this provide insight into basic cognitive functions, but it allows us to understand the disruption of executive control in neuropsychiatric diseases, such as autism and schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's.