The Center for biological physics is pleased to announce the first Kaplan Pioneer Graduate Fellowship will be awarded to Mr. Krishna Choudhary. This award, made possible by the generous donations of Mr. Richard Kaplan, is intended to support research in an area that promises to open new fields of study in biological physics. The recent work on the physics of neuronal communication in the hippocampus performed by Mr. Choudhary and his research advisor, Professor Mayank Mehta, exemplifies just this sort of trailblazing research.
Mr. Choudhary is currently a third year graduate student in physics. He intends to use the Kaplan Pioneer Award to further support his research on the neurophysics of a part of the brain called the hippocampus during the coming academic year. This work is fundamental for understanding how the brain processes sensory information to locate the individual in space and time. Mr. Choudhary writes:
"Neurons in a part of the brain called the hippocampus create the perception of space and time. But the neurophysics of how the interaction of sensory stimuli with the dynamics of this neuronal network creates that perception of space-time is not yet understood. This will be the focus of my research. Of particular interest are specialized neurons called place cells, which become active when an animal occupies a specific place in its environment. How exactly the information from different sensory systems influences the activity of these place cells is still unclear. Furthermore, it has been recently shown that neurons in the hippocampus can be selective of not only the animal’s place but also the head direction in which the animal is facing. This raises several important questions that I will address in my research: What are the mechanisms by which hippocampal neurons develop selectivity to position and head direction? For example, are these responses due to the visual cues, vestibular cues, some other cues, or some non-trivial combination of them all? My research will try to answer these questions through novel experiments on rats behaving in controlled real world and virtual reality environments, as well as using sophisticated quantitative techniques."
There will be a small reception to honor Mr. Choudhary in the fall. In addition, Mr. Choudhary will present a seminar on his research in this area next spring. Please look for updates on these events and all other Center for Biological Physics events on our website