Schoppik Lab

How does the brain learn to balance?

We're constantly engaged in a vital struggle against gravity. Using a set of unconscious reflexes, we stabilize our bodies. Amazingly, these reflexes adapt as our bodies grow.

We study how developing brains learn to balance.

Our repository of data and code

We believe that published scientific data should be available to everyone, in an easily accessible format.  Here you’ll find a "living CV" for the data and code that forms the basis for our scientific publications, with short, accessible descriptions of the papers. All data here are released as CC-BY


Control of Movement Initiation Underlies the Development of  Balance.

Balance arises from the interplay of external forces acting on the body and internally generated movements. Many animal bodies are inherently unstable, necessitating corrective locomotion to maintain stability. Here we study the interplay among environment, sensation, and action as balance develops in larval zebrafish.

Published in Current Biology, 2017.


Extraocular motoneuron pools develop along a dorsoventral axis in zebrafish, Danio rerio

Both spatial and temporal cues determine the fate of immature neurons. A major challenge at the interface of developmental and systems neuroscience is to relate this spatiotemporal trajectory of maturation to circuit-level functional organization. This study examined the development of two extraocular motor nuclei (nIII and nIV), structures in which a motoneuron's identity, or choice of muscle partner, defines its behavioral role.

Published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2016. 


fishVOR

The Tangential Nucleus Controls a Gravito-inertial Vestibulo-ocular Reflex

Despite their small size, baby zebrafish are capable of an impressive variety of fascinating behaviors. We measured their ability to stabilize their gaze following body rotations -- a vital and conserved reflex -- and identified the neurons responsible.

Published in Current Biology, July 24, 2012


The illustration above uses monkeys to schematize two possible ways that populations of neurons might work together: either a large number of coordinated neurons, rowing together, or a small number in a rowboat, each doing its own thing.  It is an original watercolor by Katherine Nagel.

Cortical Mechanisms of Smooth Eye Movements Revealed by Dynamic Covariations of Neural and Behavioral Responses.

As we move through the world, millions of neurons in our brain continuously process sensory information and coordinate our movements.  Here, we describe a collection of neurons in the brain that work together to allow us to accurately track moving objects.

Published in Neuron, April 24, 2008


The illustration above schematizes what goes on in a monkey’s brain as it tracks a moving object.  It is an original watercolor done by Katherine Nagel, and was chosen as the cover of the journal when the paper was published.

The illustration above schematizes what goes on in a monkey’s brain as it tracks a moving object.  It is an original watercolor done by Katherine Nagel, and was chosen as the cover of the journal when the paper was published.

Saccades Exert Control of Motion Processing for Smooth Pursuit Eye Movements

To accurately track objects moving in the visual world, we utilize an internal prediction of the way the object moves to help us stabilize the object on our retina.  In this paper, we probed the limits of the internal prediction, and revealed striking similarities between the way we track moving objects and the way we pay attention to the things that interest us.

 

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, July 19, 2006