Gary Marsat, Ph.D.
Systems Neuroscience, Sensory Processing and Neural Coding of Communication Signals.
Marsat's research focuses on sensory processing and is at the intersection of systems neuroscience, computational neuroscience and neuroethology. His research combines in vivo neural recordings, computational analyses and behavioral assays to uncover the principles underlying sensory processing. He asks how sensory information is encoded in the nervous system, transformed at the different stages of processing and how the cellular and network properties shape these transformations.
He uses the weakly electric fish (Gymnotiformes) as a model organism. These fish produce a weak electric field to communicate and navigate. The electrosensory system is ideally suited to help us understand, at a theoretical and mechanistic level, how sensory information is processed in sensory systems. I am most interested in the processing of communication signals in the lower level of the nervous system: the hindbrain (in particular the pyramidal cells of the ELL) and to some extent the midbrain and the cerebellum.
By investigating the cellular properties of sensory neurons, the structure of neuronal populations, the dynamic of feedback and network inputs, the properties of spike trains and the relationship between neural codes and perceptual abilities we can understand how sensory information is acquired and packaged in a format that allows higher brain areas to make decisions and trigger behavioral responses.