Empowering the Future of Neuroscience

Empowering the Future of Neurosceince

Musall Group

Neural information processing. The transformation of complex sensory information into behavioral decisions requires the coordinated activity of many brain regions. We want to understand how these regions process sensory inputs and interact with each other to generate a unified behavioral decision. Using 2-photon microscopy, we study the function of individual neurons in large neural networks of awake mice that perform a perceptual task. Our goal is to reveal the underlying principles that allow biological neural networks to efficiently process sensory information. Neuromodulation of cortical circuits and behavior. Neuromodulatory brain centers orchestrate the highly coordinated function of different brain areas and are often disrupted in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s or Schizophrenia. By combining functional imaging and high-density electrophysiology, we study how neuromodulation affects the function of different brain areas to provide insights that can guide the development of novel treatments for neurological diseases.

What are we offering?

We perform cortex-wide mesoscale imaging, cell-type specific 2-photon imaging and high-density Neuropixels recordings in awake mice. Mice perform complex multisensory behavioral paradigms, and we are interested in multisensory integration and decision-making.

Another focus of the lab is the modulation of sensory responses and decisions by internal states, such as motivation, arousal or attention. For this we perform combined recordings in the cholinergic basal forebrain and cortical circuits. Moreover, we record rich behavioral datasets with high-speed video tracking to resolve difference in movement-related modulation of brain-wide activity patterns versus internal state-dependent signaling via neuromodulatory pathways.

What are we interested in for collaboration?

Theoretical groups with an interest of complex behavioral and neurophysiological datasets. We are also interested in exploring new analysis and modeling approaches that help to reveal functional principles and hidden structure in large-scale datasets.

Molecular tools for the identification, recording and manipulation of neural populations and specific cell types.

What platforms, analysis tools or facilities do we use and can share?

We have established data analysis workflows for cortical widefield and 2-photon imaging, as well as Neuropixels recordings. We also have significant expertise in the construction and usage of behavioral paradigms for multisensory behavioral paradigms in rodents.

Discover our homepage here.

To learn more about Dr. Simon Musall, follow him on ORCID or Twitter.


  • Multisensory integration and decision-making in mice
  • Cortex-wide and cell
  • type specific functional imaging
  • Projection-specific, multi-layer 2-photon microscopy
  • High-density electrophysiology
  • Optogenetic stimulation and inhibition of neural circuits
  • Pharmacological manipulation of neuromodulation

5 selected publications

  1. Musall, Simon, Matthew T. Kaufman, Ashley L. Juavinett, Steven Gluf, and Anne K. Churchland. “Single-Trial Neural Dynamics Are Dominated by Richly Varied Movements.” Nature Neuroscience 22, no. 10 (October 2019): 1677–86. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0502-4.
  2. Musall, Simon, Wolfger Von der Behrens, Johannes M. Mayrhofer, Bruno Weber, Fritjof Helmchen, and Florent Haiss. “Tactile Frequency Discrimination Is Enhanced by Circumventing Neocortical Adaptation.” Nature Neuroscience 17, no. 11 (November 2014): 1567–73. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3821.
  3. Couto*, Joao, Simon Musall*, Xiaonan R. Sun, Anup Khanal, Steven Gluf, Shreya Saxena, Ian Kinsella, et al. “Chronic, Cortex-Wide Imaging of Specific Cell Populations during Behavior.” Nature Protocols, June 2, 2021, 1–25. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-021-00527-z. (* Equal contributions)
  4. Musall, Simon, Xiaonan R. Sun, Hemanth Mohan, Xu An, Steven Gluf, Rhonda Drewes, Pavel Osten, and Anne K. Churchland. “Pyramidal Cell Types Drive Functionally Distinct Cortical Activity Patterns during Decision-Making,” December 7, 2021. bioRxivhttps://doi.org/10.1101/2021.09.27.461599.
  5. Huang, Longwen, Justus M. Kebschull, Daniel Fürth, Simon Musall, Matthew T. Kaufman, Anne K. Churchland, and Anthony M. Zador. “BRICseq Bridges Brain-Wide Interregional Connectivity to Neural Activity and Gene Expression in Single Animals.” Cell 182, no. 1 (July 9, 2020): 177-188.e27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.05.029.