Our lab aims to understand how the brain controls behavior. To approach this question, we train rats to perform behavioral tasks and then measure the electrical activity in their brains as they behave. This schematic shows a rat at the choice point of a classic behavioral test, the T-maze. The rat must turn either left or right, using previous experience to deduce which direction predicts the best outcome. Although this sort of mutually-exclusive decision between two simultaneously-available options has a long history of study, choices like this are relatively rare in nature. You can read more about the topology of naturalistic decisions by clicking on the image. To record neural activity, we implant wire electrodes into rats' brains and measure action potentials from individual neurons in freely-moving animals. Using mathematical clustering algorithms, the unique signatures of individual neurons can be isolated from the somewhat unruly array of signals our electrodes record. This plot shows a stereotrode recording. Each dot corresponds to a single snippet of activity recorded from the brain; each colored cluster of dots represents the activity of a well-isolated individual neuron in the brain. The patterns of these action potential discharges is subsequently analyzed with respect to rats' behavior to try to understand what individual neurons or brain regions are doing. You can read more about electrophysiology by clicking on the image. We use mathematical analyses to try to understand what neurons are encoding. In this example, the activity of a population of spatially-selective neurons are used to estimate the rat's location in the environment. Click to learn more about hippocampal place cells and analyses to understand what information the encode.