Trace Stay did his Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX with Roy Sillitoe and SCGB investigator Dora Angelaki. His dissertation examined how the brain deals with Einstein’s equivalence principle of gravity and acceleration. Utilizing conditional mouse genetics, in vivo electrophysiology, immunohistochemistry, and computational analysis, he found that a brain area called the cerebellar uvula-nodulus distinguishes linear accelerations of the head from head tilts relative to gravity by integrating multiple sensory cues. Dr. Stay’s postdoctoral research at Stanford analyzes the broader neural networks that process the vestibular signals encoding orientation and motion of the head and use those signals to guide body movements. He is using large-scale neural recordings to analyze how these networks adapt their computations in response to changes in the environment, with the goal of developing a comprehensive model of how multiple information sources are used to regulate behavior.
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Raymond
Fellow: Eunice Chan
Learning induces changes in the brain that encode memories. These neural memory traces are transformed over time; hence, a brain area that is essential for the expression of a recently acquired memory may not be required at later times post-training. This well-known phenomenon of memory consolidation suggests that the memory trace is transferred from one brain area to another. This process is thought to be driven by signals sent out from the early-learning brain area during the post-training period, which drive secondary changes in the late-learning brain area. The SURF fellow will work closely with Dr. Stay to analyze the nature of the signals exchanged between the early- and late-learning areas post-training, and the principles (plasticity rules) governing the memory transfer process.