The central goal of our laboratory is to investigate how cognition and behavior emerges from large-scale interactions across widely distributed neuronal ensembles. How do sophisticated cognitive processes such as perception, decision-making, and motor behavior emerge from large-scale interactions across the brain? Which neural mechanisms coordinate these interactions, how are they dynamically regulated in a goal-directed fashion, and how are these interactions disturbed in neuropsychiatric diseases?
We believe that, in order to successfully address these questions, it is key to link large-scale population measures of neuronal activity to circuit and cellular-level mechanisms. To this end, our lab combines human (MEG/EEG) and animal electrophysiology. A central aim of the lab is to integrate these two lines of research.
Spectral fingerprints of large-scale neuronal interactions
To investigate large-scale neuronal interactions, we focus on the fine temporal structure of neuronal activity. Neuronal activity exhibits oscillations, i.e. periodicity, at various different frequencies and spatial scales. This structure may be key to understanding the neuronal mechanisms underlying large-scale interactions. Oscillations may serve as highly informative markers, or ‘spectral fingerprints’ of the circuit interactions involved in different cognitive functions
Spectral fingerprints in the ‘resting brain’
In one line of research, we investigate these spectral fingerprints with MEG and EEG in the resting human brain, i.e. without a specific behavioral task. We investigate how networks of brain regions spontaneously coordinate their oscillations at different frequencies and how these large-scale oscillatory interactions are altered in the diseased human brain. Our recent results suggest that oscillatory resting-state interactions may indeed provide sensitive markers for brain pathologies.
Task-specific neuronal interactions
In another line of research, we investigate large-scale neuronal interactions underlying specific cognitive functions. We focus on decision-making and memory as two fundamental cognitive processes that involve flexible interactions across distributed cortical and sub-cortical networks. We study these interactions with M/EEG in humans and with large-scale microelectrode recordings in animals.
Understanding neuronal interactions in the healthy brain is a prerequisite for unraveling how these interactions are disturbed in the diseased brain. We aim to translate our research into the clinical context to better identify, understand and treat neuropsychiatric disorders.