Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1137
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
DBBS graduate programs Neurosciences Program
Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology Program
Computational and Systems Biology Program
One of the primary functions of nervous systems is to extract information from the outside world and use that information to guide and coordinate behavior. When studying a particular nervous system, it is therefore important to consider the ecological context and evolutionary forces that have shaped that animal's natural behavior. The Carlson lab combines electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, computational modeling, and behavioral analysis to study information processing in the electrosensory systems of weakly electric fish from Africa and South America. These unique creatures are well suited to establishing direct links between the physiology of individual neurons and quantitative characteristics of natural behaviors, and are therefore an attractive model system for addressing basic questions about information processing by sensory systems. How do the activity patterns of peripheral sensory neurons represent information about the outside world? How do central sensory neurons extract biologically-relevant information from these patterns of activity? How do central sensory neurons integrate information from multiple sources? By focusing on specific research topics related to these broad questions, we are beginning to elucidate the impressive computational power of nervous systems.
Baker CA, Ma L, Casareale C and Carlson BA (2016) Behavioral and single-neuron sensitivity to millisecond variations in temporally patterned communication signals. The Journal of Neuroscience in press.
Vélez A and Carlson BA (2016) Detection of transient synchrony across oscillating receptors by the central electrosensory system of mormyrid fish. eLife 5: e16851. [open access]
Carlson BA (2016) Differences in electrosensory anatomy and social behavior in an area of sympatry between two species of mormyrid electric fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 31-43. [PDF]
Carlson BA (2015) Animal behavior: Electric eels amp up for an easy meal. Current Biology 25: R1070-R1072. [PDF]
Lyons-Warren AM, Kohashi T, Mennerick S and Carlson BA (2013) Retrograde fluorescent labeling allows for targeted extracellular single-unit recording from identified neurons Journal of Visualized Experiments 76: e3921. .
Lyons-Warren AM, Hollmann M and Carlson BA (2012) Sensory receptor diversity establishes a peripheral population code for stimulus duration at low intensities. The Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 2586-2600.