Athena Akrami's lab at Sainsbury Wellcome Centre
LIMLab is focused to study the mechanisms and neural principles by which the nervous system computes, represents and integrates various forms of sensory memories and priors in the process of learning and inferring meaningful statistical patterns and abstract relations in the environment. We will use high-throughput training to combine sophisticated and well-controlled behavioural paradigms with powerful tools to monitor and manipulate neural circuits. In all of our research programs, experiments are intertwined with hypotheses drawn from theoretical investigations. Drawing on the technical expertise in theoretical neuroscience and neural network dynamics, along with the expertise in rodent cognition, behavioural modelling, imaging, electrophysiological recordings and optogenetics, at LIM Lab we aim to bridge our understanding of memory and (statistical) learning at the behavioural level with its implementation at the circuit and systems level.
To unravel the common governing algorithms and mechanisms that might have been preserved throughout evolution, it is extremely beneficial to take a comparative approach, namely to study the same behavior across different species. We believe that looking through the lens of convergent cognition—determining which common features of the brain play a critical role in specific cognitive functions and which ones are unique—could dramatically increase our understanding of the neural basis of cognition, and of how and why these functions have evolved. LIM Lab currently does comparative human psychophysics/EEG, in different modalities, using similar behavioral paradigms to those used in the rodent experiments. The lab collaborates with various researchers at UCL and other places who do human/bird/insect experiments using different methods ranging from neuroimaging techniques to single cell recordings.
Computational models. At LIM Lab, computational models are part of our comparative studies, like any other biological species, in order to systematically inform and constrain the experimental designs and data interpretations, and conversely be constrained by experimental findings.
Using rodents, our lab is focused to study the mechanisms and neural principles by which neural circuits compute, represent and integrate various forms of memory and sensory priors, each for various ranges of timescales.
To unravel the common governing algorithms and mechanisms that might have been preserved throughout evolution, it is extremely beneficial to take a comparative approach, namely to study the same behavior across different species.
In all of our research programs, experiments are intertwined with hypotheses drawn from theoretical investigations. We use theoretical models to constrain data and vice versa.