How higher executive functions are encoded in humans has remained poorly explored. Our group has developed novel methods for recording well-isolated individual neurons in frontal cortical areas of human subjects undergoing planned neurosurgical procedures. These approaches have provided an incredibly unique opportunity to study higher cognitive processes such as language, social decision making and abstract rules.
Primate Social Cognition
Social interactions are unique from most other behaviors in that they involve a highly dynamic interplay between personal and group goals, and inherently require individuals to anticipate each other’s unknown intentions or covert state of mind. A major goal of the lab has been to investigate how these computations are carried out within the brain at the single neuronal level and how to selectively modify abnormal social behavior through novel neuro-modulatory techniques.
Despite ongoing efforts to develop treatments for patients with central and peripheral nerve injuries, there remain very few options for reconstituting normal function. The long-term goal of our work is to develop novel approaches for restoring motor and cognitive function through the use of adaptive implants and neural prosthetic devices. Examples include the development of a cortical-to-spinal prosthetic that uses brain activity to directly control a paralyzed limb, a brain-machine-interface for augmenting sequential motor performance and time-evoked DBS for enhancing learning.
Our group has developed novel population recording and dynamic network modeling techniques that have allowed us to test a number of basic questions about how distributed neural populations within the brain encode information across a variety of cognitive tasks.
We are developing advanced photonic and nanoengineering techniques in order to examine a broad array of neural and physical phenomena at the nanoscale-level.