Misha Ahrens received his B.A. from Cambridge University in mathematics and physics, and a Ph.D. from the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London. He was then a Burroughs Wellcome Fund–supported postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. In 2012, he became a group leader at Janelia Farm Research Campus.
Ahrens’s lab studies how the brain implements flexible sensorimotor transformations, using the larval zebrafish as a model organism. Sensory information is processed by the brain to produce behavior through the interaction of many neural systems, including pathways from visual to motor neurons and indirect pathways that differentially modulate and adapt these pathways according to environmental conditions and the state of the animal. The lab uses three-dimensional microscopy techniques and virtual-reality setups to monitor the entire brain at the same time, so that activity in all cells in the central nervous system can be related to sensory stimulation and motor output. Using computational methods, such data can generate insights into how large populations of neurons jointly process information and generate flexible behavior.