Caroline Runyan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh
A210 Langley Hall
Fifth and Ruskin avenues
City, State, ZIP
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
[email protected]
Research field
Award year


The Runyan lab will identify the neural circuits that control the flow of information throughout the brain. We are constantly bombarded with sights, sounds, and smells, and our brains must continually filter this cacophony of sensations to allow us to focus on the information that is most critical. At the same time, we must be able to shift our attention as situations change. This ability to modify how we process and react to incoming signals is broadly distributed across the brain and involves the participation of inhibitory neurons that can modulate the activity of different neuronal circuits. As a graduate student, I explored how inhibitory neurons are activated by visual stimuli. Now, combining state-of-the-art techniques in neuroimaging with powerful techniques for manipulating and monitoring the activity of neuronal circuits in awake animals, our group will investigate how excitatory and inhibitory cells work together to integrate exposure to multiple sights and sounds as mice engage in perceptual decision-making tasks, and how directing the animals to attend specifically to one sensation—by having them localize the source of a sound—modifies the activity of these cells. This work could lead to insights into disorders in which the processing of sensory information is altered, such as autism or schizophrenia.

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