Lisberger Lab

329 Bryan Research

Stephen Lisberger, Ph.D., PI

Dept: Neurobiology


Phone: 919-681-7088

Location: 327D Bryan Research Building

We investigate how the brain learns motor skills, and how we use what we see to guide how we move. Our approaches involve studies of eye movements on behaving non-human primates. 

We ask how the brain works when it is working. Our goal is to understand the general principles of brain operation, through analysis of a relatively simple sensory-motor system in a complex animal. We study the control of eye movements in awake, behaving rhesus monkeys. We analyze eye movement behavior quantitatively, we make recordings from one or several brain cells during eye movement behavior, and we use theory and computational modeling.

One area of our research concerns how the neural circuit for pursuit works as a whole to transform the sensory representation in extrastriate area MT into commands for rationale and accurate movements. A second area of research concerns how we learn motor skills. We have shown that the cerebellum is critical for motor learning, and we have provided evidence that learning occurs both in the cerebellar cortex and the deep cerebellar nuclei. We also have discovered a form of very rapid plasticity that occurs when the visual detection of movement errors causes "climbing fiber responses" in the cerebellum.

Model showing how the latency variation of neurons in area MT can account for the statistics of behavioral latency. From Lee et al., (2016)

Selected Recent Publications

Darlington T, Tokiyama S, Lisberger SG (2017) Control of the strength of visual-motor transmission as the mechanism of rapid adaptation of priors for Bayesian inference in smooth pursuit eye movements. J. Neurophysiol. In press..

Lee J, Joshua M, Medina JF, Lisberger SG (2016) Signal, noise, and variation in neural and sensory-motor latency. Neuron 90: 165-176. PMC4824642

Lisberger S.G. and Medina J.F. (2015) How and why neural and motor variation are related. Curr. Opin. Neurobio. 33: 110-116.

Joshua M, Lisberger SG (2014) A tale of two species: neural integration in zebrafish and monkeys. Neuroscience, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.04.048. [Epub ahead of print]. PMC4216779.

Yang Y, Lisberger SG (2014) Plasticity and cerebellar motor learning are graded by the duration of complex-spikes. Nature 510: 529-532. PMC4132813.