Background and activities

I am a PhD student under the supervision of Jonathan Whitlock. The current aim of our laboratory is to elucidate the neural mechanism underlying purposeful voluntary movements in parietal and frontal areas in cortex. In particular, I study the brain region called posterior parietal cortex (PPC), whose functions include polymodal sensory association, decision making, and sensorimotor transformations. Subsets of neurons in PPC also exhibit the fascinating property of sensory-motor mirror matching, such that cells show similar tuning when an animal performs an action itself, or when it sees a cohort perform the same action. The mirror properties of this circuit have been extensively studied in humans and nonhuman primates, but technical limitations inherent to human and primate research have made it very difficult to pinpoint the biological basis for how such cells come to be. In my graduate work I will thus leverage the technical advantages of the rodent preparation, including in vivo calcium imaging, to investigate on a fairly large scale whether PPC cells have mirror-like selectivity when mice perform and observe similar behaviors. If I find that mirror neurons do indeed exist in rodents, it will provide a foundation for a subsequent systematic investigation of the anatomical and cellular basis of the mammalian mirror system.

 

 

Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications

Report/dissertation

  • Tombaz, Tuce. (2019) Action representation in the rodent parieto-frontal network. 2019. ISBN 978-82-326-4302-8.