Daniel E. Shulz Team
Sensori-motor Integration and Plasticity
Tactile information is acquired and processed in the brain through concerted interactions between movement and sensation. We study neuronal processes responsible for the coding of sensorimotor information by using a comprehensive approach including electrophysiological, imaging, optogenetic and behavioral strategies in rodents. Our general strategy is to probe the brain with controlled natural tactile inputs in vivo, in order to gain understanding of the functional architecture of the system and the plasticity rules that underlie perceptual learning and motor control.
Our laboratory is the only one in the world to have developed a 24 whisker stimulator (the Matrix) which allows multidirectional whisker deflections at behaviorally relevant speed and acceleration. The Matrix allowed us to explore new paradigms that are changing the way we consider the functional organization of the somatosensory system, from a labeled line to a more distributed and flexible cortical coding. Within the framework of closed-loop neuroscience, we explore general rules of sensorimotor adaptation by developing brain-machine interfaces used as a probe for studying the neuronal code and its adaptation by reinforced learning. Our approach is original and out of the main stream since instead of applying adaptive decoding algorithms, we fix the algorithms and require the brain to adapt to them allowing the study of the plasticity capacities of the brain and the embodiment of external devices.