At the Kahn lab we study the neuroscience of brain organization. The lab is affiliated with the Department of Neuroscience at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and the Science and Engineering of Neural Systems groups at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
We are interested in understanding how the division of the brain into areas in the cerebral cortex (a part of the brain that is expanded and elaborated in primates relative to lower mammals) and the connectivity of the cerebral cortex with subcortical regions (considered conserved in evolution across mammalian species) and cerebellum gives rise to high-order cognitive function and pathology. We ask what were the central changes in brain organization during mammalian evolution and how these changes impact cognition in the healthy brain and result in impairments in pathology.
To advance these goals, we take advantage of whole-brain functional imaging in humans and animal models. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is based on the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal which reflects the levels of regional oxygen supply, a known correlate of neural activity. Thus, fMRI allows us to measure activity in multiple brain systems simultaneously, and to look at dynamic interactions between regions of the brain. To manipulate well defined populations of neurons, we are using optogenetic techniques that enable cell-type specific optical control of electrical activity at a millisecond resolution. Combining optogenetic techniques with whole-brain fMRI (termed “opto-fMRI”), we study the mechanisms governing neural dynamics at the level of the microcircuit and across brain regions. Learn more about our research here.