Postdoctoral Research Fellow
My research sits at the intersection of cognitive science, deep learning and circuit neuroscience. I am interested in the general principles underlying the function of the cerebral cortex and its interactions with other brain structures, particularly the thalamus and the hippocampus. The cortex is the brain structure considered to be the seat of most of our higher cognitive functions, including conscious perception, motor action, planning, abstract thinking, spatial navigation, language, numeracy, introspection and imagination. Despite the seemingly disparate range of functions attributed to different parts of the cortex, there is a striking similarity in their basic circuit architecture, suggesting the existence of common cortical computations of relevance to all forms of cognition.
Having previously investigated principles of cortical organisation in the sensory domain, I am now studying brain regions thought to be involved in learning, spatial cognition, decision making and behavioural flexibility —all hallmarks of human intelligence. These processes are thought to rely on the formation of cognitive maps: mental models of the world that can support efficient learning and guide future action. I am investigating how these cognitive processes might be instantiated in the activity of neurons during behaviour, and I am developing artificial neural network models inspired by brain architecture, which can tackle problems similar to those that our brains excel at solving.
I am very enthusiastic about teaching and have had experience tutoring on a wide range of neuroscience topics, including neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, synaptic neurobiology, computational neuroscience and mathematics for neuroscientists.
More recently, I have been exploring the use of VR and AR technologies to make the teaching of complex science and maths topics more intuitive and engaging.
Subcellular spatial resolution achieved for deep-brain imaging in vivo using a minimally invasive multimode fiber
Vasquez-Lopez SA. et al, (2018), Light: Science & Applications, 7
Thalamic input to auditory cortex is locally heterogeneous but globally tonotopic
Vasquez-Lopez SA. et al, (2017), eLife, 6