How do neurons and muscles control skilled behaviors?

How do neural codes and circuits change during skill learning?

Skilled behavior demands that neurons evoke a pattern of muscular activation that produces the desired motor output. Our research on vocal behavior in songbirds and forelimb behavior in rodents seeks to understand how signals are transformed across levels of the nervous system and recoded during motor learning.

Our tools include physiological recordings from neurons and muscles, behavioral manipulations, the development of novel electrode technologies, and computational approaches. We combine these methods to explore the interplay between sensory feedback, the brain’s search for agile motor patterns, and the mechanics of the body in motion.

Top image: 
Bengalese finch VTA (ventral tegmental area). Cyan: TH+ cells, Purple: Area  X-projecting cells. Data: Lyndie Wood