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GONZALEZ LAB

Brain computation controlling behavior.

The Lab

The Gonzalez lab was inaugurated on January 1st, 2023, on the 5th floor of the Sandler Neuroscience Building at the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. We are affiliated with the Neuroscience Program at UCSF, the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, the Kavli Institute for Fundamental Neuroscience, and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Research in the Gonzalez lab takes advantage of the latest advancement in 1-/ 2-photon imaging and electrophysiology to access neuronal activity in the brain of behaving mice and songbirds. Currently, our research focuses on identifying how information transfer between networks of neurons controlling learned behavior is compromised by noise and how distributed neuronal networks adjust their activity to preserve behavior.

We develop and implement several platforms that allow us to record large-scale neuronal activity (1000+ neurons) in multiple brain areas simultaneously in freely moving mice and songbirds. We take advantage of our expertise in surgical approaches, electrical engineering, machining, computer science, and optics to develop novel paradigms to interrogate brain function. Ultimately, we seek to identify the fundamental mechanisms by which information is relayed between brain areas, how tolerant to noise these mechanisms are, and how the brain performs corrections of errors in information relayed between brain areas. Answering these questions will allow us to develop a framework that describes the tolerance of the brain to noise and how it adapts to correct noise. We envision that leveraging the error-correction mechanisms of the brain will lead to novel therapies seeking to enhance cognitive abilities and recovery from disease.

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Research

Vertebrate behavior is characterized by movement, and for many species, the precise production of complex learned motor behaviors is essential to their survival. Human behaviors such as writing, talking, or using tools rely on the intricate and precise movement of several muscles while simultaneously monitoring internal and external sensory information. Proper performance of these behaviors can take years of tutoring and practice and require specialized brain areas involved in memory, motor control, and sensory feedback.

 

How do different brain regions integrate and relay information to generate complex motor behaviors?

 

More importantly, how are these brain functions affected by noise, regulated by the cognitive state, and challenged by aging and disease?

Addressing these fundamental questions in neuroscience will require novel technologies and experimental paradigms seeking to interrogate neuronal activity across multiple brain areas in animals performing complex learned motor behaviors. Our laboratory aims to identify the fundamental mechanisms by which information controlling motor behaviors are acquired, stored, and updated by distributed networks of neurons. Ongoing research in our lab seeks to:

Decipher the error correction mechanism implemented by the brain during the performance of complex motor behaviors.

 

Identify how sleep regulates learning and maintenance of motor behaviors.

Dissect how aging and disease affect neuronal activity controlling recall and performance of motor behaviors.

Develop brain-machine interfaces to enhance learning and performance of complex behaviors.

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