The cerebellum, critical for precise motor control, forms a sideloop attached to the brainstem.
Imagine reaching for a glass of water. The sequence of actions – reach, grip, return, tip, and sip – is automatic, but for people with cerebellar disease, such precise actions are impossible. Kinetic tremors, where the limb oscillates around a target, result from cerebellar damage and resemble the behavior of feedback error-driven control systems, where slow sensory feedback results in the limb repeatedly over- and under-shooting its target. This deficit suggests that the cerebellum may normally compute a ‘forward model’, i.e. a prediction of body kinematics, bypassing slow sensory feedback to guide movement. We endeavor to understand the circuit-level mechanisms of this computation and use these mechanistic insights to more finely test the role of cerebellar computations in precise motor control. We use a combination of techniques to address these questions including behavior, electrophysiology (both in vivo and in vitro), optogenetics, anatomy, and modeling. We enjoy a dynamic and positive lab environment and welcome anyone interested in our work to contact us!