About the Lab

About the lab

The goal of research in the Sawtell laboratory is to forge detailed links between the properties of neural circuits and their functions. Our studies of weakly electric fish have shown how a specific form of synaptic plasticity operating within a well-characterized cerebellum-like circuit functions to predict and cancel out sensory inputs generated by the animal’s own behavior. Such a process could allow behaviorally relevant sensory inputs, e.g. those generated by predators or prey, to be processed more effectively. This work provides a mechanistic account of how copies of motor commands are transformed into specific predictions of sensory events as well as insights into the function of the cerebellar granular layer. A tight coordination of experimental and theoretical approaches is a key aspect of the lab’s approach. Experimental work involves intra- and extracellular recordings from identified neuron classes in awake, behaving fish. Theoretical work is performed in collaboration with Larry Abbott’s group at the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University.

Recent Publication

Congratulations to our lab members

  1. Fede on his recent paper linked above.
  2. Qianyun for completing her thesis defense.
  3. Michael on his graduate school admission.

March 2024 Press Coverage