Krista Perks, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Krista Perks is currently a postdoctoral neuroscientist at Columbia University with Dr. Nathaniel Sawtell. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, with Dr. Timothy Gentner, where she studied how individual neurons encode flexible representations of vocal communication signals in the auditory system of a songbird. Her current research reflects her interest in how the neural code for movement scaffolds the neural code for sensation. Perks’s long history as an aerial circus performer and movement artist has helped spur her fascination with the role of movements in the acquisition, processing and interpretation of sensory input. Throughout her work, Perks has focused on a mixed evolutionary/comparative approach to understand cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying the general phenomena of how perception only partially depends on the physical features of sensory stimuli. At Wesleyan University, she received her B.A. and M.A. for her work with Dr. David Bodznick using the mechanosensory systems of fish to study how the nervous system eliminates the deleterious effects of movements on sensory systems. Her work demonstrated that internal signals associated with this animal’s own behavior can generate and subtract predictions about the mechanosensory consequences of its behaviors. Perks’s current research employs the electrosensory system of a weakly electric fish to study how sensory input acquired through movement is gated, decoded and interpreted in the brain.

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