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Current Lab Members

photo of Neural Computation and Behavior Lab staff

Mark H. Histed, Ph.D.Mark H. Histed, Ph.D. (MIT, 2005)

Through his time in science, Mark's work has examined how behavior is controlled by neuronal activity. The principal theme has been using neural activity perturbations to shed light on what aspects of brain activity are used for behavior, and to this end Mark has studied a variety of mammalian model systems from mouse to primate, using electrical stimulation and optogenetics, combined with in vivo electrical and optical measurement approaches such as two-photon imaging. Mark is excited about the power of genetically- and optically- targeted perturbations during psychophysical mouse behavior to understand how neuronal activity patterns are used by the mammalian brain. Mark was born and raised in Scranton, PA, lives in Washington with his family and bikes to work as much as he can.

Bradley Akitake, Ph.D.Bradley Akitake, Ph.D. (Univ. of Maryland College Park, 2007)

Bradley joined the Histed lab as senior scientist in April of 2016. His previous research, conducted at the University of Maryland (graduate) and at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute (postdoctoral), focused on characterizing the molecular sensors employed by animals to gather information about their external environments and the mechanisms by which sensory information is used to modulate behaviors. Bradley has investigated physiology and behavior of the fruit fly across many sensory systems but has particularly focused on machanotransduction related to kinesthetic sense (proprioception). In the Histed lab, Bradley will investigate how information encoded by the activity of peripheral sensory neurons is transformed and represented in the mammalian cortices.  The goal of his work is to better understand how multimodal sensory inputs combine in the brain to form distinct precepts guiding behavior. Outside of the lab Bradley is a technology geek and an avid tennis player.

Sam Duffy, B.S. Sam Duffy, B.S. (Tulane University, 2014)

Sam majored in neuroscience at Tulane University then studied toxicological effects of chronic dietary intake of bisphenol A in rodents at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. Sam is currently using 2-photon optogenetic stimulation to probe what kind of decoding strategy the mouse brain uses in a behavioral decision making task.  Specifically, whether the brain assigns weights and sums input linearly or if there are specific patterns of neuronal activity that have non-linear behavioral significance. In his free time Sam enjoys hiking, cooking, and snowboarding.

Caitlin Leedy, B.S. Caitlin Leedy, B.S. (Northeastern University, 2016)

Caitlin studied Behavioral Neuroscience at Northeastern University. While an undergrad she worked for three different labs studying addiction, schizophrenia, and cystic fibrosis. Current research involves determining the roles of various cortical and subcortical regions in interpreting a visual stimulus, using a combination of optogenetic and electrophysiological techniques. Outside of the lab, Caitlin enjoys trying new recipes and exploring the DC/MD area.

Lauren Ryan, B.S. Lauren Ryan, B.S (George Washington University, 2016)

Lauren’s previous work was in fMRI, where she worked on studies in both chronic pain and epilepsy. In the Histed Lab, she is now focusing on an animal behavior and two- photon imaging project that asks if there are patterns of neuronal activity that make the animals perform better than if the animal was decoding the pattern by averaging across neurons. Lauren grew up in Rhode Island and spends time outside of the lab dancing, rock climbing, and exploring D.C restaurants.

Alessandro Sanzeni, Ph.D. Alessandro Sanzeni, Ph.D. (University of Milan, Italy, 2016)

Alessandro is using analytical and computational modelling to investigate the dynamics of neural networks. He is interested in understanding the computations performed by local circuits in the brain, how they depend on the structure of the underlying network, as well as their role in perception and behavior. His current research involves the origin of nonlinearities in modulation of external inputs (e.g. normalization and surround suppression) which have been observed across brain areas and species. Previously he worked on touch sensation in C. elegans, grid cells and Parkinson’s disease. Alessandro is Italian; he likes outdoor sports, good food and espresso coffee.

Anna Li

Anna is a behavioral neuroscience major at Northeastern University and will graduate in 2018. Prior to joining the lab, she studied stress behavior and neuroanatomy in rats. She hopes to contribute to Histed lab projects that combine mathematical and behavioral approaches, and eventually pursue graduate education in computational and theoretical neuroscience. Anna grew up in San Diego, CA, and likes to walk around the city, try new and weird foods, and pet other people’s dogs.