Synaptic organization and function of the neocortex
My laboratory examines the structure and function of synapses in the mammalian neocortex and their contribution to complex circuit activity and behavior. We are particularly interested in applying an array of methodological approaches, including electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging and transmitter photo-uncaging, optogenetics, and viral tracing to both reduced preparations and intact behaving animals. In this way, we hope to bridge the gaps between molecular, cellular, and systems neuroscience. In recent work, we have demonstrated specific roles for subpopulations of excitatory and inhibitory neurons within mouse primary visual cortex in visual feature encoding, state-dependent cortical dynamics, and visually-guided behavior. Additionally, we have developed novel imaging systems for simultaneous imaging of neuronal activity across scales ranging from single cells, to large-scale cortical networks, to whole-brain activity. The overarching goal of our lab is to understand at a mechanistic level how bottom-up and top-down circuits interact to influence perception and cognition underlying normal and disordered behavior.
Michael Higley received his Bachelor's degree in 1998 from Cornell University and his MD-PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, followed by postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. He started his lab in the Yale Department of Neuroscience in 2010, and is currently a tenured Associate Professor with a secondary appointment in Psychiatry. His partner Prof. Jessica Cardin is also in the Department of Neuroscience, and they share two children, Sebastian and Theo. He is an avid percussionist (playing with the Yale Medical Symphony Orchestra) and uklulelist.