My principal interests are in elucidating how circuits in the mammalian brain transform information in sensory systems and how populations of neurons then represent features of the external world. Specifically, I study the mammalian auditory system and evaluate how the auditory
system processes species-specific communication signals and the cues that enable animals to associate a sound with its location in space. The animals that I use for experimental subjects are echolocating bats. The reasons for using bats are that they are mammals and thus their auditory systems are mammalian in design, yet they rely to an inordinate degree on their sense of hearing for survival. Because of the high premium they place on hearing, their auditory systems are greatly enlarged and express features with exceptional clarity.
Like all animals, bats also have to what a sound is and where in space it came from. Projects that address ï¿½what the sound isï¿½ investigate how the brain decodes and represents
complex acoustic signals. We do this by recording
from individual nerve cells to evaluate how nerve cells respond to complex signals and what rules the auditory system employs to create response selectivity and diversity.
We also focus on how the brain processes and represents
sound location. Sound localization is of particular interest because the nervous system has to compute the location of a sound source from on acoustic cues received at the two ears. Thus, my research efforts are directed at evaluating how the cues from the two ears are processed by the circuits in the auditory system and how those cues are represented in the higher regions of the auditory system
by populations of neurons.