Assistant Professors Michael Goard and Michael Beyeler Awarded NIH BRAIN Initiative Research Grant for Studying How Vision Contributes to Navigation

April 15, 2021

When we navigate through the world, we principally use our visual sense to identify obstacles and orient ourselves. However, we know very little about how these visual inputs are processed and converted into spatial information that allow us to navigate through our environment. Michael Goard (PBS/MCDB) and Michael Beyeler (CS/PBS), both assistant professors with appointments in Psychological & Brain Sciences, were recently awarded a major NIH Brain Initiative R01 Research grant, entitled "Cortical visual processing for navigation", to study how visual signals are transformed as they transition from visual brain regions to spatial brain regions. To study this, the group will use 2-photon imaging and electrophysiology to measure neural activity in mice navigating through real world and virtual environments. They will then use data-driven computational approaches to analyze the data and generate predictive models. This project is in collaboration with Associate Professor Spencer Smith (ECE) and Cris Niell (University of Oregon Department of Biology), and provides $2.83 million in funding for the first three years (renewable for two additional years).