Research in the Wilson laboratory focuses on the manner in which memory representations in the brain are formed, maintained, and used during behavior. Researchers employ several distinct strategies for examining the neural basis of memory including electrophysiological, genetic, behavioral, and computational approaches. By introducing arrays of microelectrodes into hippocampal and neocortical areas of freely behaving rodents they have been able to examine the coordinated activity of ensembles of large numbers of individual cells and relate this ensemble activity to behavioral performance and memory. By examining subsequent changes in neural activity during sleep and quiet wakefulness they have begun elucidating the nature of memory processing and consolidation during these periods. Using computational methods to decode the ongoing patterns of neuronal ensemble activity, they can evaluate the content of memory as it replayed during sleep – effectively visualizing the content of dreams. Using real-time, closed-loop control methods, they can manipulate brain activity based on that decoded memory content, allowing them to test specific computational hypotheses of the role of sleep and dreams in cognitive function.
Moderator: Pam Belluck KF '08, Health and science writer, New York Times
Closed captioning will be available. An archive of this webcast will be made available on the MIT Alumni Association YouTube channel within a week of broadcast.
About Matt Wilson
Professor Wilson received his BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, his MS in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his PhD in computation and neural systems from the California Institute of Technology.
Wilson joined the faculty at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1994 where he studies the role of sleep in learning and memory, and brain systems that contribute to spatial navigation, and decision-making, and their possible involvement in neurological diseases and disorders through the use of microelectrode arrays implanted in the brains of freely behaving rodents.
Wilson is currently Associate Director of The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, and Associate Director of the Center for Brains Minds and Machines.
Matt Wilson (Picower Institute)
Decoding hidden dreams (MIT News)
In Profile: Matt Wilson (MIT News)
Reading the Minds of Rats (TEDx Talks)