Neural state dynamics: Optical & Molecular approaches
Michael Halassa is an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a resident in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Neuroscience research fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studies the role of neural dynamics in behavioral state regulation using multi-site multi-electrode recordings. During his Ph.D. work with Dr. Phil Haydon at the University of Pennsylvania, he discovered that astrocytes regulate sleep dynamics and sleep behavior (Halassa et al., 2009 Neuron; Fellin et al., 2009 PNAS). He now studies how behavior modulates circuit activity (field potentials and spike-train statistics) in identified forebrain structures. He combines electrophysiology with causal genetic tools (optogenetics and chemical genetics) to dissect the circuit basis of neural dynamics underlying arousal states (c.f. Halassa et al., 2011 Nature Neuroscience). Michael was recently awarded the NIH pathway to independence career award (K99/R00) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.