Matt’s primary research interests are to better understand the neuroscience of neurological and psychiatric disorders, and to develop new tools and technology to aid future neuroscience research. His current project in the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab is focused on developing an understanding of the neurobiological aspects of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) models in mice. This project first involves developing a behavioral assay which can reliably detect cognitive deficits in AD mice and the rescue of cognitive function by pharmacological treatments. This behavioral assay will then need to be translated into a virtual reality environment, so that the cognitive ability of mice can be tested while head-fixed in a virtual reality arena under a 3-photon microscope. The ability to visualize neural activity in deep structures of a mouse brain while the mouse is performing complex, learned tasks will hopefully give us a better neurobiological understanding of how potential treatments for cognitive decline might work to restore proper brain function.
Matt received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in a joint graduate program between the Janelia Research Campus and the University of Cambridge. With education and experience in both engineering and neuroscience, Matt has been involved in many projects involving the development of novel assays and technology in order to better address current challenges faced by neuroscientists. Most recently, he worked in the Lab of Michael Reiser at the Janelia Research Campus, where he developed an improved visual display and virtual reality system as a new tool for vision researchers and used this technology to understand more about the neuroscience of motion vision and flight control in fruit flies. When he’s not in the lab, Matt enjoys exploring the outdoors with his wife Ally and dog Sydney.