Through computational neuroscience, we try to work out what steps someone takes, in their brain, when they think or act. Our research group applies these ideas to three domains that are affected by neurological illnesses:
Motivation drives us to do things. Many brain disorders impair motivation, causing apathy or impulsivity. This can be catastrophic, leaving patients disabled, and is of course very stressful for carers. Understanding the anatomy and chemistry of motivation may permit treatments of these disorders.
Many neurological problems affect our movements. By studying the paths of movements, and how those paths can be adjusted, we are building a picture of how groups of neurons might work together to create smooth, controlled actions.
Remembering what we have just seen, done, or are about to do, is a natural ability for most of us. However certain diseases can interfere with these kinds of short-term memory. By studying how groups of neurons interact to retain information over brief intervals, we may begin to understand how this goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.