See our also our lab page: Vervaeke lab
Mission and methods
Our lab studies how the brain turns sensory information into perceptions. The physical stimuli reaching our eyes and ears are very complex, yet our perception of the outer world appears rather simple. To understand how we are able to interact with the physical world so efficiently, we study the fundamental principles by which brain circuits operate.
We currently focus our efforts on the neocortex, the outermost part of our brain that is important for most learned and flexible behaviors. We want to understand the logic behind the neural connections and how the emerging pattern of activity underlies the animal's behavior. Our central hypothesis is that the basic unit of the cortex -the pyramidal cell- associates sensory input with internal activity based on expectations and previous experience. Because sensory- and internal input occur on different parts of the dendritic tree and is under tight control by inhibitory neurons, we have a special interest in how dendrites integrate these two input streams.
We are a multidisciplinary lab that combines experiments and computational modeling. Our central approach is to train mice to perform simple perceptual tasks. By using quantitative behavior, optogenetic gain- and loss-of-function manipulations, in-vivo two-photon imaging, and electrophysiology, we aim to provide a description of the relationship between the function of neural circuits and perception. To obtain a mechanistic understanding of how neural circuits operate we use our experimental data to develop computer models. This allows us not only to test hypotheses but also to help the design of new experiments.
By unraveling circuits for perception in the healthy brain, we expect to gain key insights into principles of mammalian brain function, and to provide a framework to understand how circuit dysfunction causes mental and behavioral aspects of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.
- Eye movements (MED4100, MED2200)
- The vestibular system (MED4100, MED2200)
- Somatosensation (MED2200)
Koen Vervaeke, Associate Professor
2007-2011 Postdoc, University College London (Angus Silver lab)
2002-2007 PhD in Physiology, Oslo University (Johan Storm Lab)
- ERC starting grant (2015)
- FRIPRO Young Research Talents grant (2014)