As an animal actively navigates, or is passively carried through, its environment, its eyes receive continuous visual motion signals generated by its own movement relative to its stable surroundings. How does the vertebrate brain process such visual information and prepare compensatory locomotor and eye movement behavior?
Our group investigates the underlying neural circuits in live zebrafish larvae. We aim to understand how optic flow is filtered by the optic tectum and the pretectum to generate eye movement behaviors such as the optokinetic response.
Furthermore, we study how local networks produce function in the (pre‑) motor systems in the hindbrain. The neural integrator for horizontal eye movements forms a short-lived memory of eye positions by maintaining eye-position related neural activity in the absence of input. It serves as a paradigm to identify mechanisms of short-term information storage, which is also needed in many other vertebrate brain areas of higher complexity.
We use a combination of optogenetics, two-photon microscopy, genetics, behavioral assays, as well as other physiological approaches and computation to investigate the architecture and mechanisms of these neural circuits.