Laboratory for Sensorimotor Integration

Whisker Motor Cortex

Whisker Motor Cortex

Layer 5 cortico-collicular neurons (green) intermingled with neurons that project to the opposite hemisphere (red).

Cortico-thalamic

Cortico-thalamic

Layer 5 and 6 neurons in the Barrel cortex that project to the thalamus.

SC Axonal Waterfall

SC Axonal Waterfall

Retrograde labeling of cortical axons that terminate in the midbrain.

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves

Bird's eye of the main space

Bird's eye of the main space

It has great lighting and a open feeling

Stereotaxic injection rig

Stereotaxic injection rig

Inject your favorite optogenetic virus into the brain

Multi-probe electrophysiology

Multi-probe electrophysiology

Experimental set-up for recording from multiple brain regions simultaneously while a mouse actively touches objects with its whiskers.

Whiskering

Whiskering

A mouse running on a treadmill touches a drum that is rotating in synchrony with its treadmill speed. Machine learning is used to track whisker motion.

Phase Tuning

Phase Tuning

Phase tuning curves for 12 neurons in the Barrel cortex while a mouse actively palpates a surface. Phase angle of -pi radians is the start of whisker protraction, while angle 0 is the start of retraction.

SC global motion selectivity

SC global motion selectivity

Three example neurons in the superior colliculus that are selective to the direction of movement of a circular drum that is rotating against the whisker pad.

The primary goal of the Pluta lab is to discover novel principles of neural circuit function. Research in our lab elucidates the neural mechanisms underlying sensory perception and sensory-guided behavior. We are fascinated by the dynamic interplay between cortical and midbrain networks during active sensation. Our model system is the rodent sense of touch because mice purposely maneuver their facial whiskers to navigate the environment, capture prey, and socialize. We utilize precision genetic tools to optically manipulate neural activity while recording from populations of neurons across multiple brain regions. By combining these techniques with quantitative behavioral tracking and statistical modeling, our research provides novel insight into the cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying sensation and action.

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By discovering fundamental properties of the mammalian brain, our research will hopefully enable better diagnosis and treatment of complex and debilitating neurological disorders.

Active touch

Office: 765-494-7526

Cortico-thalamic

Layer 5 and 6 neurons in the Barrel cortex that project to the thalamus.