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Mark A. Stopfer, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Section on Sensory Coding and Neural Ensembles

NICHD

Building 35A, Room 3E-623
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

301-451-4534

stopferm@mail.nih.gov

Research Topics

Sensory Coding and Decoding by Ensembles of Neurons

All animals need to know what is going on in the world around them; thus, brain mechanisms have evolved to gather and organize sensory information in order to build transient and sometimes enduring internal representations of the environment. Using relatively simple animals and focusing primarily on olfaction and gustation, we combine electrophysiological, anatomical, behavioral, and other techniques to examine the ways in which intact neural circuits, driven by sensory stimuli, process information. In the past year, we investigated mechanisms, including transient oscillatory synchronization and slow temporal firing patterns of ensembles of neurons, that underlie information coding and decoding and how spontaneous activity arises in a sensory system, how it is regulated, and how innate sensory preferences are determined. Our work reveals basic mechanisms by which sensory information is transformed, stabilized, and compared as it makes its way through the nervous system.

Biography

Dr. Mark Stopfer received his B.S. and Ph.D. from Yale University where, with Dr. Tom Carew, he applied behavioral and electrophysiological techniques to study mechanisms underlying simple forms of learning. He then joined Dr. Gilles Laurent's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology where he examined the information processing properties that emerge within ensembles of neurons, focusing particularly upon oscillatory and synchronous neural activity. Dr. Stopfer came to NIH in 2002. His laboratory studies neural ensemble mechanisms underlying sensory coding in relatively simple animals.

Selected Publications

  1. Ito I, Bazhenov M, Ong RC, Raman B, Stopfer M. Frequency transitions in odor-evoked neural oscillations. Neuron. 2009;64(5):692-706.
  2. Gupta N, Stopfer M. Functional analysis of a higher olfactory center, the lateral horn. J Neurosci. 2012;32(24):8138-48.
  3. Aldworth ZN, Stopfer MA. Trade-off between information format and capacity in the olfactory system. J Neurosci. 2015;35(4):1521-9.
  4. Gupta N, Stopfer M. A temporal channel for information in sparse sensory coding. Curr Biol. 2014;24(19):2247-56.
This page was last updated on January 26th, 2017