Hi, I'm
I like to build things
in real life and in code
As an engineer I build tools that will help us to one day crack the neural code.
Using light to read and write neural activity
By combining digital holography, multi-photon optics and genetic engineering we developed a method that allows neuroscientists to precisely stimulate individual neurons while recording the activity of hundreds of others.
Closed-loop all-optical BMI
We implemented fundamental BMI functions by incorporating real-time image processing. This closes the loop between reading activity and deciding what to stimulate, allowing experimenters to automatically perturb circuits based on real-time activity patterns.
We're currently working on a comprehensive guide and trouble-shooting resource for anyone wanting to perform their own all-optical neural circuit interrogations.
As a scientist I use those tools to directly test theories of brain function.
The minimum detectable amount of brain activity
By stimulating different numbers of neurons we asked how salient can cortical activity be, and how susceptible to noise is it? We showed that the psychometric function for detection of cortical activity is sensitive, steep and plastic.
Functional connectivity of local brain circuits
By selectively activating specific groups of neurons, that can be close or far apart, similarly tuned or not, we can begin to unravel how brain circuits encode and transform information. We have shown in visual cortex that some neurons can activate other neurons similar to them, but the net influence of a given neuron on the local network is suppression, following a centre surround motif.
Mesoscale connectivity mapping
Through upgrading the imaging and stimulation optics we opened up much larger volumes of cortex for interrogation, allowing perturbation and observation across millimetres of brain tissue. We investigated how activity propagates across cortical areas, testing both feedback and feedforward pathways between primary and higher visual areas.
Manipulating memory guided navigation
Neurons in the deep brain region of the hippocampus (area CA1) are thought to be vital for enabling memory-guided navigation through physical space. We directly test this long-standing hypothesis by using our all-optical method to stimulate specific ensembles of neurons during virtual reality navigation.
Attractor dynamics of CA3 and CA1
Pattern completion and pattern seperation are two algorithms thought to be implemented in the brain (hippocampus). How information undergoes such transformations between downstream (CA3) and upstream (CA1) areas is little understood. We explore this by performing simultaneous 3D imaging of both areas while parametrically manipulating the virtual environment through which subjects navigate.
Neural control
As a software and hardware engineer I build custom systems to enable other scientists to perform technically challenging experiments with ease.
Comprehensive software to allow non-expert scientists to use holographic stimulation to probe neural circuits. The interface allows the user to select and group neurons by anatomy or function and then produce all required files for the sub-systems including SLM phase masks, microscope galvo and power control, and external triggers. Making 3D all-optical experiments a one-stop process.
Calibration Suite
Protocols to align two laser sources ensuring micron-level accuracy at the sample plane. Co-registers 3D point clouds in 'SLM space' with 'imaging space' allowing the accurate targeting of individual neurons in a 3D volume. Also equalises laser power distribution ensuring consistent activation.
I'm working with leading microscope companies to disseminate our custom software - easy to use interfaces atop complex calibration and device communication layers - enabling even more scientists to use our multi-laser, multi-photon method to read and write neural activity.
To automate and multiplex psychophysical experiments for high-throughput results I design and build flexible, low-cost and open-source platforms.
Open-source, low-cost and high-performance software and hardware to enable high-throughput and parallelised psychophysical experiments. A Python GUI customises the configuration of an Arduino microcontroller to synchronise the delivery of visual, auditory and somatosensory stimuli while monitoring participant responses and triggering external devices accordingly.
Miniature VR
VR systems to study the neural basis of navigation are typically bulky and cumbersome. We radically miniaturised a low-cost but highly effective solution, freeing applications from spatial constraints, enabling compatibility with a much wider range of imaging systems.
I'm available for freelance contract work on projects including app building and data analysis. If you'd like to work with me, get in touch.
Smart home utilities
I'm working with a South African start-up to rapidly develop a cross-platform mobile app that bidirectionally interfaces with their API to display real-time and archived utilities data (water and electricity) as well as turning off the supplies. I collaborated with a UX/UI designer to turn a wireframe into a fully-functioning prototype. Tools used: React Native and JavaScript.
Virtual therapy
As a proof on concept we developed a wireframe VR application to potentially open up psychological therapy to a wider audience. Tools used: Unity and the Google Cardboard SDK.
Passion project
In my spare time I've restored my classic car. I've cut and welded the body back to new, rebuilt the engine and rewired the electrics to bring it back to life.