Neuroscience of Learning

We study the neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory. A major focus of our research is to identify neural circuit interactions that contribute to motor learning in rats. We are currently examining interactions between the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and cerebellum during motor learning. Techniques used in our lab include multiple tetrode recording, multisite recording, optogenetics, DREADDs, functional imaging, various neuroanatomy methods, electrical stimulation, and localized drug infusions in the brain.

Neuroscience of Categorization

We also study the neural mechanisms underlying visual categorization in rats. Our most recent studies are examining the respective roles of the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and caudate nucleus in category learning. These studies are part of an NIH Program Project Grant to study the development and neurobiology of categorization with Ed Wasserman (, Vladimir Sloutsky at Ohio State University, and Bradley Love at University College London.

Developmental Neuroscience of Learning

A major focus of our research is the ontogeny of learning and memory. Our goal has been to discover the neural mechanisms underlying developmental changes in motor learning in rats. We have found that developmental changes in sensory inputs to the cerebellum play a major role in the ontogeny of motor learning. Our most recent projects are examining the development of hippocampal and prefrontal cortical contributions to associative learning. 

Research Support

National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke

National Institute for Mental Health

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Roy J. Carver Trust

Iowa Neuroscience Institute