Welcome to the Department Assistant Professor Jimmy Dooley
PROFESSIONAL FACULTY RESEARCH
(Developmental and Behavioral Neurobiology) My lab focuses on understanding how the movements we make when we’re young help our brains learn how to move our bodies.
Infants continually explore and interact with the world around them, and these experiences are critical for normal sensorimotor development. Although it’s generally assumed that the important movements occur while we’re awake, my lab’s research calls this assumption into question. Specifically, I’ve found that myoclonic twitches (brief movements produced during REM sleep) drive neural activity throughout the brain that, in turn, promotes sensorimotor integration and development. My lab aims to understand whether this twitch-related neural activity is necessary for the development of cortically-mediated motor control. To achieve this aim, I investigate brain-behavior relations in infant rats as they cycle between sleep and wake. My research uses a variety of methods, including multichannel neurophysiology, pharmacological and optogenetic manipulations, and state-of-the art behavioral analysis.