Nicholas Steinmetz, Ph.D.


Nicholas Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biological Structure
University of Washington
1959 NE Pacific St.
HSB 1-534
City, State, ZIP
Seattle, WA 98195
[email protected]
Research field
Award year


The Steinmetz lab explores how different brain regions cooperate to make decisions. Determining how to respond to the constant flood of sensory stimulation that we encounter requires the participation of multiple brain regions that can interpret information, assess its relevance, and fashion an appropriate behavior—such as turning the head or moving a hand. Using a technique that I developed for monitoring the activities of thousands of individual neurons in several brain regions at once, I found that when mice were tasked with making a decision (turning a wheel in a certain direction based on a visual cue), neurons in brain regions involved in sensory detection, processing, and motor control were simultaneously active. Now, using this technique in combination with methods in engineering, computational neuroscience, and data analysis, my lab will analyze how these regions cooperate to generate behavior, perturbing the activity in one area to see how it affects the others. We will also assess how these regions filter out irrelevant information when an animal must focus on one visual cue while ignoring another. Our findings will reveal how information flows through the brain to give rise to complex behaviors and could lead to interventions for disorders in which information processing is impaired, such as schizophrenia.

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