Synthesis of optical, physiological and computational methods in neuromodulation
The brain is composed of intricate circuits of neurons that communicate via electrical signals, mediated by fast excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmission on the order of milliseconds. Superimposed over this fundamental layout is a remarkably diverse set of slower signals, functioning on the order of milliseconds to hours. These instructive signals, referred to collectively as neuromodulation, critically regulate fast neurotransmission. Our laboratory is interested in decoding complex, multiplexed neuromodulatory systems function, at the level of neuronal connections, neural circuit dynamics and behavior. Here, we describe our recent data outlining a novel neuromodulatory projection that regulates the activity of dopamine-producing neurons in mice. In parallel, we are initiating the development of light microscopy methods to simultaneously and selectively image activity patterns in large ensembles of genetically targeted neurons.