My lab studies how circuitry in the brain gives rise to complex behaviors, one of nature’s great mysteries. We study how the auditory cortex processes sound, and how this is interrupted in autism. We also seek to obtain a wiring diagram of the mouse brain at the resolution of individual neurons. Our unusual approach exploits cheap and rapid “next-gen” gene sequencing technology.
Anthony Zador and colleagues study how brain circuitry gives rise to complex behavior. Work in the lab is focused on two main areas. First, they ask how the cortex processes sound, how that processing is modulated by attention, and how it is disrupted in neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism. Recently, the lab found that when a rat makes a decision about a sound, the information needed to make the decision is passed to a particular subset of neurons in the auditory cortex whose axons project to a structure called the striatum. In the second major line of work in the Zador lab, they are developing new methods for determining the complete wiring instructions of the mouse brain at single-neuron resolution, which they term the “Connectome.” In contrast to previous methods, which make use of microscopy, these methods exploit high-throughput DNA sequencing. Because the costs of DNA sequencing are plummeting so rapidly, these methods have the potential to yield the complete wiring diagram of an entire brain for just thousands of dollars.