Rancz lab Cortical Circuits Laboratory

Image of nerve cells researchers in the Rancz lab study.

We are studying the circuits created by nerve cells in order to understand how the brain works.

The mammalian brain is built from many millions of nerve cells, wired together to form circuits and systems. These neuronal networks receive inputs from our senses and process the information to generate sophisticated responses, such as thoughts, feelings and actions.

We are studying these circuits using a wide range of techniques, looking at everything from the entire brain down to single nerve cells so that we can understand more about how the brain works. In particular, we are focusing on the networks in the brain involved in seeing and sensing space and direction, known as the visual and vestibular systems.

Using mice as a model system, we are using brain scans to see how the larger networks of nerve cells connect together and become activated. We can then use genetic engineering tools and precision electrical recordings to zoom in further, labelling and activating individual nerve cells to see how they connect together to form tiny circuits that process information and produce actions.

Our work is allowing us to understand the brain from the bottom up, finding out how the microscopic circuits between nerve cells work together to generate complex behaviours.