Christopher Moore studies brain dynamics and how they change can change perception from moment to moment.
The brain's ability to shift the way it processes information—to shift its ‘state’—is crucial to surviving in an ever-changing world. Dysregulation of these dynamics are a hallmark of neurologic and psychiatric disease. The laboratory is studying the mechanisms responsible for generating brain states, how they impact the representation of a sensory input, and how, ultimately, they change conscious perception.
Brain Rhythms: Mechanisms and Behavioral Impact
One focus is in understanding rhythmic neural activity that typifies many brain states. In this vein, they have used optogenetic techniques to demonstrate the role of a specific cell type in generating the 'gamma' rhythm, a brain state believed to be crucial to attention. They are also recording brain rhythms while humans perform perceptual tasks, and have recently found brain states that predict success in detecting a sensory input.
The Hemo-Neural Hypothesis
In addition to studying established brain states, the laboratory is also testing the novel prediction that changes in blood flow in the brain can regulate the sensitivity of neural circuits. This 'Hemo-Neural' hypothesis predicts that signals from the vasculature may be crucial to information processing and/or homeostatic regulation of neural activity.
Processing Touch with Cortical Circuits
Studies in the Moore laboratory use the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) as the key model circuit. The 'barrel' cortex of rodents, the SI representation of the whiskers on the face, is a specific focus of their studies. As part of understanding perception mediated by SI, the laboratory has made several discoveries on the basics of touch perception, including the discovery of new maps in barrel SI, the first detailed description of the ‘natural scenes’ of whisker perception, and novel findings about how peripherally induced dynamics—such as adaptation of motion on the fingertip—can shift visual perception.
An Interdisciplinary Approach
The approach taken to studying SI cortical dynamics is interdisciplinary. To dissect the detailed machinery of brain states, they are applying cellular-level imaging techniques such as 2-photon imaging and electrical recordings from single-cells. They test the relevance of these hypotheses for humans by recording brain states using magnetoencephalography (MEG), and blood volume changes using fMRI.
Relevant Publications (Past 2 Years)
Cardin, J., Carlén, M., Meletis, K., Knoblich, U. Zhang, F., Deisseroth, K., Tsai, L.-H. & Moore, C. I. Activation of Fast Spiking Interneurons Induces Gamma Oscillations and Shapes Sensory Transmission. Nature, Epub ahead of print, April 26, 2009.
Konkle, T., Wang., Q., Hayward, V. & Moore, C. I. Motion After-Effects Transfer Between Touch and Vision. Current Biol, Epub ahead of print, April 8, 2009.
Ritt, J., Andermann, M. and Moore, C. I. (2008) Embodied Information Processing: Vibrissa Mechanics and Texture Features Shape Micro-Motions in Actively Sensing Rats Neuron 57:599-613.
Moore, C. I. & Cao, R. (2008) The Hemo-Neural Hypothesis: On the Role of Blood Flow in Information Processing. Invited Review, J Neurophys 99:2035-2047.
Jones, S. R., Pritchett, D., Stufflebeam, S., Hamalainen, M. & Moore, C. I. (2007) Neural Correlates of Tactile Detection: A Combined MEG and Biophysically Based Computational Modeling Study. Featured Article, J Neurosci 27:10751-64