Our lab studies how the brain learns, controls, and perceives the syntax of flexible behavior.
We wish to understand how acquired, versatile, and adaptable behaviors like speech, dance, and playing a musical instrument, emerge from unreliable spiking neurons and plastic synapses. Activity in these components of the nervous system occurs in milliseconds - in time scales that are dramatically different than the behavior they support. We investigate the neural mechanisms that bridge this gap in a uniquely advantageous model – canaries - virtuosos capable of innate acquisition and production of vocal sequences unfolding in time scales and syntax rules similar to human behavior.
We combine behavior studies, electrophysiology and calcium imaging in freely singing canaries, and neural networks theory – working at the intersection of physics, engineering, and biology at the realm of systems physiology, machine learning, and computational cognitive neuroscience.