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Prof. Karen Moxon
Drexel University, USA


Prof. Patrik Krieger
Systems Neuroscience


Understanding the computations by which neurons process dynamic sensory stimuli, thereby giving rise to perception and behavior, remains a central problem in neuroscience.
Somatosensory processing is an active process that allows the brain to acquire information from the environment by passing the sensory organs such as fingers or whiskers along objects.
Understanding how the neuronal circuits integrate these stimuli into useful sensory information is a fundamental question in systems neuroscience.
It is well established that the responses to repetitive stimuli, within tens of milliseconds to seconds, are attenuated or adapted. This adaptation occurs in all sensory modalities, in both cortical and subcortical areas and the cellular mechanisms of this phenomenon has been well studied. Nevertheless, the functional role of adaptation during touch, when the brain must continuously decode the dynamics of when and where a stimulus occurred in order to identify attributes of an object (e.g. shape, texture), is not completely clear.

I very much look forward to the possibility to contribute to graduate research education at the RUB.
It will be inspiring for me to meet new students and to learn more about research education in Germany.
I hope to be able to contribute with both my teaching and research experience to the success of the doctoral students in the group of Prof Krieger and colleagues, and also in general to contribute to fostering the next generation of scientists.

Research goals and activities

Our goal is to team up the cutting edge experimental technology of the Krieger lab, including, optogenetic approaches for cell-type specific circuit modulation, with the advanced computational modeling of the Moxon lab, including combinations of encoding and decoding models, to understand the computational role of neuronal adaptation to encode on-going sensory stimulation.
Topics that have been discussed in journal clubs and other activities include: (i) Tactile sensory processing; this was the topic of a research seminar hosted on sept 7, 2016 where Prof. Moxon and other international guests gave a presentation of their work; (ii) Technical focus: Interfacing with neural networks to gain insights on sensory processing.