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Kamran Diba

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Kamran Diba is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology in the School of Medicine. His research group is interested in how the brain computes, coordinates, stores and transfers information. Neuronal networks generate an assortment of neuronal oscillations that vary depending on the behavior and state of an animal, from active exploration to resting and different stages of sleep and anesthesia. Accordingly, in their recordings of large populations of spiking neurons in rodents, they observe state-dependent temporal relationships at multiple timescales. What role do these unique spike patterns play and what do they tell us about the function and limitations of each brain state? To answer these and related questions, they combine behavioral studies of freely moving, learning and exploring rats, multi-channel recordings of the simultaneous electrical (spiking) activity from hundreds of neurons during behavior and sleep, neural network models of this behavior, statistical and machine learning tools to uncover deep structure within high-dimensional spike trains and chemogenetics and optogenetics to manipulate protein signaling and action potentials in specific neural populations in precise time windows.

Sara Aton

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The consolidation of recent experiences into long-term memories is a fundamental function of the brain and critical for survival. Consolidation is linked to plastic changes at synapses between neurons. However, very little is known about how this plasticity is brought about by ongoing activity in neuronal networks, and how different brain states (e.g. sleep and waking) contribute to the consolidation process.

We study how neuronal and network activity in sleeping and awake brain states contributes to plasticity following novel sensory experiences. By combining behavioral, biochemical, electrophysiological, and optogenetic techniques, we study the effects of waking experiences and sleep on neural circuits in the rodent brain.

Relationship between LFP spectral power and functional connectivity patterns in a representative mouse at baseline.

Omar Ahmed

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The Ahmed lab studies behavioral neural circuits and attempts to repair them when they go awry in neuropsychiatric disorders. Working with patients and with transgenic rodent models, we focus on how space, time and speed are encoded by the spatial navigation and memory circuits of the brain. We also focus on how these same circuits go wrong in addiction, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

In addition to electrophysiology in rodents and humans, we use imaging and photoactivation techniques to record and alter neuronal activity as rodents navigate custom-designed virtual reality environments. We also work on novel computational techniques to model and analyze our immensely large electrophysiology and imaging datasets to better understand how specific behaviors are encoded by neural circuits.

Dr. Ahmed received both his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in Neuroscience from Brown University. He then worked with epilepsy patients at Massachusetts General Hospital during his postdoctoral work, before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor.

Polar plots showing the rhythmic phases of spikes fired by human neurons, revealing systematic variations across space and time.

Rudy Richardson

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Dr. Rudy J. Richardson is the Dow Professor of Toxicology in the School of Public Health and Associate Professor of Neurology in the Medical School.

His research interests include computational molecular modeling, including ligand-receptor docking, molecular dynamics simulations, and homology modeling, with applications to toxicology, medicinal chemistry, protein structure and function, neurodegenerative disorders, and the molecular basis of insecticide resistance in disease vectors.

Dr. Richardson received his BS (magna cum laude) in Chemistry from Wichita State University. Upon achieving PhD candidacy in Chemistry at Stony Brook, he transferred to Harvard, where he earned the ScM and ScD degrees in Physiology/Toxicology. He did postdoctoral work in Neurochemistry at the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit in Carshalton, England, before coming to the University of Michigan in 1975. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the Society of Toxicology, and he is board-certified by the American Board of Toxicology.

3D alignment of human (magenta) and T. californica (green) acetylcholinesterase (AChE) using MUSTANG and YASARA.