The research aim in Neurodigit Lab is to identify the computations and their underlying neuronal mechanisms for sensorimotor processing and perception. Our focus, is on sense of touch and tactile perception. The sense of touch is one of the oldest senses in the animal kingdom. Our most intimate experiences are tactile.
The model systems of our interest are:
1) Rodent whisker-mediated touch system
2) Human fingertips and digits
3) Rodent digit and forepaw
The rodent whisker-mediated touch system is one of the most popular model systems suitable for investigating the fundamental questions in systems neuroscience. This is because this model serves as an anatomically well-established and behaviorally efficient system; as nocturnal animals, rodents extensively use their whisker-mediated touch system to collect information about their surrounding environment. Moreover, this system represents a well-studied circuitry with an elegant structural organization. The acuity of this system is comparable to human fingertips. more...▼
Fingertips have one of the highest density of touch receptors in the human body. We actively interact with our environment through our fingertips and digits. Daily tasks such as holding up a cup are the result of fine coordination of hand and digits which would not be impossible without sence of touch at our fingertips. The human psychophysics and electrophysiology experiemnts in Neurodigit lab involve application of vibration or flutter tactile stimuli to multiple digits. The spatio-temporal pattern of the vibrations creates reliable complex tactile perceptions such as motion. One of our aims to apply these patterns for aid devices, touch-screen tablets and smart devices, and sex industry.
Rodent digit and forepaw
Similar to humans, rodents (including rats and mice) are one of the few species among mammalians that exhibit a variety of grip and digit postures for handling food, grooming, climbing and catching prey insects. The existence of these core patterns of forepaw and digit use in rodents suggests that these skilled movement patterns likely originate from the common ancestor to rodent and primate lineages. In Neurodigit lab, we run parallel humans and rodents experiments in order to identify the neuronal substrates of paw and digit-mediated touch, and the rich and highly coordinated limb, paw and digit movements.
We are also interested in other models. This includes visiual system in avians to understand the neuronal compuations underlying the extraordinary ability of small bird to fly among obstacles such as branches, multisensory integration and cue combination, collaborative coordinated body movement in Tango, and neuronal substrates of congregating behaviour in zebrafish shoals.
We use a set of complementary techniques and methodologies including:
Human psychophsyics and electrophysiology
Extracellular array electrophysiology (chronic and acute)
Optogenetics and imaging
Computational modeling and theory
Whisker and digit movement tracking
Design, engineering and development of automated solutions for neuroscience research