Neuroengineering circuits for vocal learning

Vocal learning is an incredibly complex behavior that requires an intricate choreography between genetics, development and neural activity between different brain regions. While each aspect plays an important role in vocal learning, we believe the motor system is particularly important for the evolution of this complex behavior. Drawing from the descriptive insides of comparative genomics and brain evolution, we use cutting-edge tools in gene manipulations and physiological measurements (including multiphoton live imaging and silicon probe electrophysiology) to test how each facet of the genes-to-neuron choreography affects the vocal motor system.  We aim to use this knowledge to reverse engineering the features of advanced vocal learners in mice, a genetically tractable model system.

  • How flexible is the mouse vocal behavior?

  • How is this behavior implemented in neural circuitry?

  • Can we enhance both vocal flexibility and circuit function by imitating the gene expression patterns of advanced vocal learners?

Arriaga et al. 2012 PLOS ONE
Chabout et al. 2016 Front. Behav. Neurosci

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