Lisberger Lab

Stephen Lisberger, Ph.D., PI

Dept: Neurobiology

Email: lisberger@neuro.duke.edu

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 using behavior, neural recordings, and computational analysis. Our work is done 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 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. A single climbing fiber causes depression of the "simple-spike responses" on the attempt at a movement, along with a learned change in eye movement. 

Learning curves showing the pace of neural (left) and behavioral (right) learning across a learning session in the cerebellum (top) and the smooth eye movement region of the frontal eye fields (bottom). from Li et al., (2011)

Selected Recent Publications

Yang J, Lee J, Lisberger SG (2012) The interaction of Bayesian priors and sensory data and its neural circuit implementation in visually-guided movement. J Neurosci 32: 17632-17645. PMC3527106.

Huang X, Lisberger SG (2013) Circuit mechanisms revealed by spike-timing correlations in macaque area MT. J Neurophysiol 109: 851-866. PMC3567398

Joshua M, Medina JF, Lisberger SG (2013) Diversity of Neural Responses in the Brainstem during Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements Constrains the Circuit Mechanisms of Neural Inte-gration. J Neurosci 33: 6633-47. PM3705570.

Lee J, Yang J, Lisberger SG (2013) Control of the gain of visual-motor transmission occurs in visual coordinates for smooth pursuit eye movements. J Neurosci 33: 9420-9430. PMC3705569.

Hohl SS, Chaisanguanthum KS, Lisberger SG (2013) Sensory population decoding for visually guided movements. Neuron 79: 167-179. PMC in process by Journal.