PEOPLE

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MARCUS STEPHENSON-JONES

Principal Investigator

Marcus Stephenson-Jones is a group leader at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre. He obtained his PhD from Sten Grillner’s lab at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where he studied the evolution of the vertebrate brain. He then went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow in Bo Li’s lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he identified how a conserved subcortical circuit computes relative value by integrating information of opposing valence. His major research interest now is understanding the learning rules that govern how information is transformed into purposive action.

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FRED MARBACH

Postdoctoral Fellow

The Basal Ganglia have been implicated in various aspects of motor control based on prior experience. Fred’s research aims to show that separate output channels can influence diverse aspects of goal-directed movement.

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HERNANDO MARTINEZ VERGARA

Postdoctoral Fellow

Hernando is interested in the telencephalic cell types that mediate learning as well as the circuitry changes that accompany learning. During his PhD, Hernando studied the evolution of cell types in the central nervous system of bilaterians. Hernando is co-supervised by Tom Mrsic-Flogel and is supported by an EMBO long-term fellowship.

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STHITA PATI

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sthita is interested in understanding the neuronal mechanisms of motivated behavior, in particular how animals perform goal-directed navigation in a perceptual decision making task. Prior to joining the lab, he did his PhD with Professor Vidita Vaidya at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India where he studied the long-term programming of emotional behaviour during postnatal life.

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FRANCESCA GREENSTREET

Graduate Student

Francesca's research aims to clarify the role of dopamine in stimulus-action associations using fiber photometry in freely moving mice.

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LARS ROLLIK

Graduate Student

Lars focuses on dissecting the circuit architecture and function of the indirect pathway in the basal ganglia using techniques such as electrophysiological recordings and optogenetic manipulations. He is particularly interested in the neural computation of action parameters in the context of goal-directed behaviour.

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EMMETT THOMPSON

Graduate Student

Whether practising a dance, optimising your tennis serve, or learning how to tie a shoelace, difficult tasks become easy and stereotyped with practise. Emmett is trying to understand how the basal ganglia function as a part of a distributed circuit to learn and execute motor sequences such as these.

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SVENJA NIERWETBERG

Graduate Student

Svenja is interested in how context modulates goal-directed behaviour. In a collaborative project with the MacAskill lab (UCL), she is investigating the role of hippocampal-striatal connectivity in flexible contextual behaviour in mice.

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LAURA SCHWARZ

Research Assistant

Laura is a Research Assistant interested in how mice learn to couple an action with a sensory cue.

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YASMIN MEYER

Research Assistant

Yasmin is studying the corticostriatal plasticity underlying learning in perceptual decision-making. Her work aims to clarify how the genetically diverse neural populations in the striatum support learning and maintenance of stimulus-action associations.