School of Life Sciences

Maravall Lab

Principles of sensory processing in the whisker system

Our senses sample a huge stream of ongoing information from the world. To make sense of this information and pull out what is relevant to our ongoing actions, the brain adjusts to the spatial and temporal patterns present in the environment, predicts what will come next, and extracts unexpected, novel or noteworthy aspects.
When we face a scene – objects moving, people speaking to us – neurons adjust their responses to allow us to detect what is going on, seamlessly and on a one-shot basis. Temporal patterns in the stimulus are essential cues; the brain’s responses reflect the interplay between those cues and our internal state.

 

Our research group investigates the computations that underlie these spectacular abilities of the brain. To do so, we mainly study the responses of neurons that process tactile information in the rodent whisker pathway – a key sensory system for rodent behaviour, used for navigating and for detecting and identifying objects. We use experimentation and computational analyses to try to identify the principles underlying the sensation of time-varying stimuli. We develop sensory task assays for both mice and humans to derive principles from comparison, and to try to understand neuronal responses in the context of an animal interacting with the world.

Together with these main interests, we very much enjoy collaborative projects that inform and enrich our perspective. Topics of recent and ongoing collaborations have ranged widely, including human temporal perception (Warrick Roseboom, Sussex), neurogenesis and the arrangement of neurons in the developing cortex (Oscar Marín, King's College London), and the development of new open source tools for neuroscience research and education (Andre Maia Chagas and Tom Baden, Sussex).

 

Our lab is within the School of Life Sciences and also belongs to the Sussex Neuroscience strategic research programme, which supports the vibrant community of neuroscience researchers at Sussex.

We are grateful for grant support from the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

We are always interested in speaking with outstanding candidates for independent postdoctoral fellowships. We also currently sponsor PhD students through the Sussex Neuroscience 4 year PhD programme and the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in 'biomimetic embodied AI'.

Please contact Miguel Maravall if you would like to discuss these possibilities.

 

 

Contact

Prof Miguel Maravall

Professor of Neuroscience; Director, Sussex Neuroscience

Miguel Maravall portrait photo 

 

E: M.Maravall@sussex.ac.uk

T: +44 1273 877263

Visit Prof Miguel Maravall web profile