Research of the Digital Neuroanatomy group focuses on functional anatomy of circuits in the brain – specifically the cerebral cortex – that form the basis of simple behaviors (e.g. decision making). This research involves the use of large scale, high resolution microscopic techniques to reconstruct individual morphologies, distributions and synaptic wiring of different neuron types. Neurons are recorded from using in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological techniques. The results are used to simulate signal flow in an anatomically realistic network model. Eventually, this may reveal parts of the network that trigger sensory initiated behavior and lead to new discoveries about the brain’s process of learning.
Furthermore, the research group is conducting a program dedicated to obtaining a three-dimensional map of the normal rodent brain. Different neuron types are labeled with specific fluorescent markers. Next, imaging and quantification of neuron distributions is achieved by 3D confocal mosaic microscopy and custom designed automated neuron detection software. This work will provide insight into functional architecture of entire cortical areas, and will thus lay the foundation for future studies on brain degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.