A neuronal circuit in the mouse brain showing visually driven neurons (cyan) and sound driven neurons.

Flor Iacaruso : Neuronal Circuits and Behaviour Laboratory

We are studying how neuronal circuits in the brain combine information from different senses, such as sight and hearing, to guide behaviour.

The ability of animals to interpret sensory information and behave in response relies on the intricate connectivity of billions of neurons organised in small circuits.

These networks consist of a variety of neuronal cell types that combine sensory information with our past experiences, our internal state at the time and ongoing behaviour, and then broadcast signals to specific brain areas.

To understand how our brains are capable of generating thoughts, actions and memories we need to uncover the precise organisation of these neuronal circuits.

We are studying this in the superior colliculus, a region of the brain that in rodents as in humans, plays an important role in combining different sensory information and focusing attention toward the ones that matter.

We measure the activity of nerve cells in the superior colliculus in mice when they are undergoing various behavioural tests, to see which neurons are involved in particular behaviours and which signals they send to different brain areas to support behaviour. We combine this with work recording electrical signals in slices of mouse brains to study how nerve cells communicate.

We aim to identify fundamental principles of how neural circuits are organised and advance our knowledge about the neural basis for guiding attention in a multisensory world.