Troy Margrie group

Sensory processing in single cells, circuits and behaviour

Our goal is to understand how the brain uses the activity of individual and collections of neurons to encode a sensory stimulus. We use a top-down, multi-disciplinary approach towards understanding sensory representation that allows us to explore this fundamental issue from the systems to the cellular level. Specifically, we are investigating several key aspects:

  1. the relationship between neuronal connectivity and function
  2. how sensory information is encoded and integrated by individual synapses and cells
  3. how sensory representation is distributed across populations of cells
  4. the significance of distributed neuronal activity to sensory perception

One particularly useful technique, referred to as two-photon targeted patching, allows us to optically record activity over large populations of cells while simultaneously examining synaptic integration using intracellular whole-cell recordings. This technique can also be used in combination with genetic indicators that permit imaging and electrophysiological characterisation of specific populations of cells. Wherever possible we apply both optical and electrophysiological techniques in behaving animals that allow us to quantify sensory signaling through neuronal circuits.

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In vivo optical imaging of structure and function of the mammalian olfactory bulb. An anatomical reconstruction of the olfactory bulb (drawn by the Nobel Laureate Ramon y Cajal) highlighting the glomerular organization (red circle) of this brain structure (left). Odour-evoked patterns of glomerular activity resulting from presentation of pineapple and banana.

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In vivo whole-cell recordings and two-photon imaging. Intracellular recordings carried out in anesthetized and awake mice (above). 2 photon image of calcium dye- loaded cells in the cortex of an anaesthetized mouse (below).

Selected publications

Our research themes

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