Welcome to the Runyan Lab at the University of Pittsburgh!
The meaning of a sensory stimulus can change depending on the current situation, and the ability to flexibly and appropriately adjust behavioral responses in changing contexts is critical for survival. The goal of our research is to understand the circuit mechanisms that control the flow of information between brain regions.
How do networks filter out irrelevant information?
How does incoming sensory information interact with the animal’s internal brain state?
To answer these and related questions, we use two-photon imaging, genetic labeling, and optogenetic manipulation of specific cell classes in mice performing perceptual tasks. Specifically, we wish to understand how incoming signals interact at different points in the cortical hierarchy, how inhibitory subcircuits control the transmission of these signals, and how neuromodulatory inputs allow changing brain states and external contexts to alter sensory processing. In the longer term, we will build on this foundation to enable new approaches to understanding disruptions in network communication in complex brain disorders such as schizophrenia and addiction.