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Kerr Group

The overall research aim of the Department of Behavior and Brain Organization (BBO) is to quantify how mammals use vision to make decisions and the underlying computations that the neuronal circuitry performs during natural behaviors. To gain access to the full repertoire of an animal’s behavioral strategies, self-determined sensory input, as well as the underlying neural activity, our research involves measuring in the freely moving animal. To achieve this BBO develops head-mounted brain imaging and high-density behavioral tracking tools, such as 2- and 3-photon head-mounted microscopes and optics-based body, head and eye-tracking techniques, that can be used on freely behaving animals from a range of mammalian species. The use of different species allows, for example, the comparison of how the eye movements of different animals enable prey capture or predator avoidance during foraging. The overall aim of this approach is to generate a thorough understanding of mammalian vision and the organization of the circuits that underlie it.

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  • Imaging brain and behavior in freely moving mammals: development of 2 & 3-photon head mounted microscopes
  • development of eye- and head- tracking for freely moving mammals
  • development of skeleton tracking in freely moving mammals
  • various standard and non-standard imaging techniques.

5 selected papers

  1. Holmgren, C.D., Stahr, P., Wallace, D.J., Voit, K.-M., Matheson, E.J., Sawinski, J., Bassetto, G., and Kerr, J.N. (2021). Visual pursuit behavior in mice maintains the pursued prey on the retinal region with least optic flow. Elife 10, e70838.
  2. Klioutchnikov, A., Wallace, D.J., Frosz, M.H., Zeltner, R., Sawinski, J., Pawlak, V., Voit, K.-M., Russell, P.S.J., and Kerr, J. (2020). Three-photon head-mounted microscope for imaging deep cortical layers in freely moving rats. Nature methods 17, 509–513.
  3. Wallace, D. J., Greenberg, D. S., Sawinski, J*., Rulla, S., Notaro, G., & Kerr J. N. D. (2013). Rats maintain an overhead binocular field at the expense of constant fusion. Nature 498, 65-69.
  4. Mittmann, W., Wallace, D. J., Czubayko, U., Herb, J. T., Schaefer, A. T., Looger, L. L., Denk, W. & Kerr, J. N. D. (2011). Two-photon calcium imaging of evoked activity from L5 somatosensory neurons in vivo. Nature Neuroscience 14, 1089-1093.
  5. Sawinski, J., Wallace, D. J., Greenberg, D. S.*, Grossmann, S., Denk, W. & Kerr, J. N. D. (2009). Visually evoked activity in cortical cells imaged in freely moving animals. PNAS 106, 19557-19562.