About the lab
Our lab studies the neural basis of natural behaviors (i.e., Neuroethology) to uncover general principles of brain function. We focus on spatial, social, and acoustic behaviors (including their interplay) and utilize bats due to their specialized capacities for those functions.
The fundamental principles of our approach are the following:
(1) Natural behavior: we believe that general neural computations are best understood in the context of natural behaviors that a nervous system has evolved to subserve. Therefore, we view the power of natural behavior as a gateway towards understanding the inner workings of the brain (for example, as we have shown here and here, both intra and inter-brain cortical activity patterns differ markedly between naturalistic and task-based conditions).
(2) Species selection: we believe it is crucial to carefully select the appropriate model system for the scientific question at hand. Therefore, we utilize one of the most spatially, socially and acoustically sophisticated mammal on the planet - the bat (for example, when we utilized the bat -- the only flying mammal - to ask how 3D space is represented in the hippocampus).
(3) Rigor, simplicity and reproducibility: we believe that good experiments often follow a basic principle: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler” (Albert Einstein). Therefore, we aim to find the conditions that on the one hand enable animals to engage in their natural behaviors while on the other hand enable rigorous experimental control and accurate measurements (for example, when we leveraged the structured flight of bats to demonstrate how uncontrolled behavioral variability can lead to multiple forms of illusory neural dynamics in the hippocampus).
(4) Technology: we believe that technological development should follow a good scientific question, not the other way around. Therefore, we pioneer a wide range of neural and behavioral technologies that are needed for the questions we aim to address (e.g., wireless electrophysiology and wireless calcium imaging in individuals, pairs or groups).
(5) Date your hypothesis, never marry it: we believe in an ‘hypothesis-driven, analyses-free’ approach. Therefore, while we certainly respect existing hypotheses in the field, and often form our own to guide our experiments, we also approach them with caution and importantly, with an open, data-driven, mindset (for example, when we showed that grid cells can exist in the absence of theta oscillations, therefore dissociating between the two phenomena).
Combined, we take a neuroethological approach that utilizes a combination of a superb model system and cutting-edge technologies to understand how the brain subserves complex natural behaviors.