I am interested in uncovering basic principles of neuron-neuron connectivity and neuron-glia interactions in mammalian cortex. Is there a basic information processing circuit of neocortex, and what is it? How does it vary between brain areas and species? How does local translaminar circuitry integrate with bottom-up and top-down pathways, and with cortico-subcortical connections?
To answer these questions, I have moved to the field of electron microscopic imaging. In the Lichtman Lab, we are pushing the limits of serial-section electron microscopy beyond cubic millimeter size to allow us to analyze true synaptic connectivity between large numbers of identified neurons. The main challenges that have to be solved for this are of computational nature – dealing with petabyte-sized image data, and automating image alignment, segmentation and analysis. To this end I have developed algorithms and software tools for microscope automation, image alignment and stitching, manual and semi-automatic segmentation, and data analysis, which I and others have used and are using routinely for our scientific projects.