• Title Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Education PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  • Web Address http://gavorniklab.bu.edu
  • Phone 617-358-0444
  • Area of Interest cortical circuits, synaptic plasticity as the basis of learning and memory, the neural representation and processing of time, the biophysical basis of visual perception
  • CV

Current Research

The basis of all cognitive function is communication between neurons in the brain. This communication is mediated by synaptic connections that are modified by experience to encode function. In order to get at the big question of “how the brain works”, I study how experience driven synaptic plasticity changes local neocortical physiology. I am particularly interested in how neural circuits are able to incorporate past experience to predictively represent spatiotemporal information.

Employing a variety of experimental and computational approaches, my lab examines how the cortical response to specific sensory stimuli change as a consequence of learning. We use the primary sensory cortices, particularly the visual cortex, as relatively accessible and interpretable regions in which to isolate the core biology responsible for coding higher-order information in less accessible neocortical areas. The goal is to elucidate the mechanistic bases of cortical processing algorithms and memory storage.

Selected Publications

  • Chen X, Mu Y, Hu Y, Kuan AT, Nikitchenko M, Randlett O, Chen AB, Gavornik JP, Sompolinsky H, Engert F, Ahrens MB (2018) Brain-wide organization of neuronal activity and convergent sensorimotor transformations in larval zebrafish. Neuron 100(4): 876-890.
  • Kaplan ES, Cooke SF, Komorowski RW, Chubykin AA, Thomazeau A, Khibnik LA, Gavornik JP, Bear MF (2016) Contrasting roles for parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory neurons in two forms of adult visual cortical plasticity. eLife 2016(5): e11450.
  • Cooke SF, Komorowski RW, Kaplan ES, Gavornik JP, Bear MF (2015) Visual recognition memory, manifested as long-term habituation, requires synaptic plasticity in V1. Nat Neurosci 18: 262-271.
  • Gavornik JP, Bear MF (2014) Learned spatiotemporal sequence recognition and prediction in the primary visual cortex. Nat Neurosci 17(5) 732-737.
  • Shouval HZ, Hussain Shuler MG, Agarwal A, Gavornik JP (2014) What does scalar timing tell us about neural dynamics? Front Hum Neurosci 8: 438.
  • Melom J, Akbergenova Y, Gavornik JP, Littleton JT (2013) Spontaneous and evoked release are independently regulated at individual active zones. J Neurosci 33(44): 17253-17263.
  • Shouval HZ, Agarwal A, Gavornik JP (2013) Scaling of perceptual errors can predict the shape of neural tuning curves. Phys Rev Lett 110(16): 168102.
  • Gavornik JP, Shuler MGH, Loewenstein Y, Bear MF, Shouval HZ (2009) Learning reward timing in cortex through reward dependent expression of synaptic plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106(16): 6826-31.

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