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Gritton, Howard

Assistant Professor

Address and Contact Information

2001 Lincoln
M/C 002
Urbana, IL  61802

Education

  • Ph.D. Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • M.S. Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • B.S. Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Academic Positions

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Bioengineering, Boston University, Boston, MA

Research Interests

The goal of our research is to understand how distinct regions of the brain interact as a process of what we experience and how we use that information to inform choice. It is a mystery as to how coordination between brain regions occurs, but overwhelming evidence suggests that rhythms or “brain waves” that are present in all animal species serve as a type of scaffolding that allow for the dynamic coupling of regions together transiently. In diseases such as autism, we believe that local rhythms contribute so strongly to couple nearby neurons that they are not influenced by other regions of the brain. In contrast, in conditions like Parkinson’s disease, we believe that regions of the motor pathways become so ubiquitously over-coupled that it impedes the ability to promote movement.

My lab uses animal models to understand how neuromodulators such as acetylcholine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, contribute to the generation and timing of rhythms that temporally couple neurons and how pathological rhythms can contribute to neuropsychiatric illness and disease. To do so, we apply novel imaging techniques (calcium and voltage imaging) with electrophysiology, allowing us to record from hundreds of neurons across multiple brain regions simultaneously while monitoring changes in brain rhythms. Using optogenetic and chemogenetic targeting tools, we measure how perturbations of neurons that contribute to the generation of rhythms alter coupling between brain regions and how this change influences learning and memory or cognitive and social behavior in mice.

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