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Students work with mentors in labs
SURIC Mentor in Biology
Name: Jonathan Levitt
Office Location: MR731/MR729
Teaches undergraduate courses in physiology, as well as undergraduate and graduate courses in neuroscience. He received his Ph.D. from NYU.
Research Topic(s) Summary:
Neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of the mammalian central visual pathways.
Description of Research:
Our laboratory aims to understand the physiological properties and anatomical connections of neurons in visual areas of mammalian cerebral cortex. The ultimate goal of this work is to understand visual perception in terms of its underlying neural substrates. We now know that there are over 2 dozen distinct areas of mammalian cerebral cortex with visual functions, yet we do not know why there are so many visual areas, or indeed how single neurons in any area come to have the functional properties that they do. It is also now clear that the responses of neurons are not so rigidly hardwired as previously thought. Rather, a single visual neuron's responses to a given stimulus vary dynamically according to the context in which that stimulus is viewed. Specifically, although responses can be evoked from a neuron only when stimuli fall within a restricted portion of the visual field, stimuli falling outside that region do not themselves evoke responses but at any moment can dramatically enhance or suppress a simultaneously evoked response. A major focus of our research is understanding this phenomenon and its development, crucial to our basic understanding of how the brain dynamically transforms sensory signals into neural responses. A second focus of our work is characterizing the visual response properties of neurons in a number of different areas of cerebral cortex; understanding differences among areas will clarify the perceptual abilities mediated by those areas. To address these questions, we employ both electrophysiological recording as well as neuroanatomical techniques; these allow one to study not only the physiological properties of brain cells, but also the underlying structural basis for how such functional properties are constructed by the brain. Check his personal page.
Students Currently Assigned to Mentor:
• mohammad Ali (Physics Major)
• Ujuka obi-eyisi (chemistry Major)
List of Mentors by Department
• Jonathan Levitt
:: Earth & Atmospheric Science