We study how the brain represents and processes information about the external world. We are interested in how neural circuits transform sensory representations, and particularly interested in how animals actively acquire sensory information to guide behavior. We use the mouse olfactory system as a powerful model to analyze sensory representations and to ask how the dynamics of neural circuits process incoming information to guide behavior and shape perception. As a primary tool we use optical reporters of neural activity and synaptic transmission targeted to genetically- and anatomically-defined neuron populations, and use two-photon imaging in the awake behaving animal combined with measurements of sampling behavior and behavioral readouts of odor perception. We also use genetic and optical tools to perturb neural subpopulations, with the goal of dissecting how particular neural circuits shape sensory transformations in the intact brain.
See 'Projects' for an annotated list of recent Wachowiak lab publications.