Assistant Professor Psychology
My research interests revolve around the question of how the activities of ensembles of neurons drive our capacity to decide, remember, and navigate. In particular, I am interested in the role of the prefrontal cortex in cost-benefit decision making and in the role of the hippocampus in navigation and memory consolidation. I investigate these topics through the use of large-scale extracellular recording methods acquired from rodents as the animals perform a variety of decision-making and navigational behaviors. The results of my research point towards a surprising connection between physical movement and working memory-associated neural activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an observation that has since motivated me to develop novel tools for behavioral control, analysis, and inertial measurement. Research into decision making in our laboratory has also revealed that neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region involved in effort-guided decision making and action selection, integrate information about actions, physical effort, and reward in the service of maintaining action sequences during goal-directed behaviors. Our work in spatial navigation has investigated how the hippocampal navigational system can switch the relative strength of visual and vestibular inputs based on goal location. Our ultimate goal is to connect our work in these two areas by recording from both regions simultaneously in order to determine how contextual and spatial information from the hippocampus becomes integrated with executive processes operating in the prefrontal cortex.
Thomas White, 2015; "The Effect of Low Dose Ketamine on Dopamine"; 2016, "Validatin tonic dopamine through the use of FSCAV: a novelty technique"; 2017, "Developing Calibration Curves for Carbon Fiber Micro Sensors"