Graduate Studies Faculty
Curtis Bell, Ph.D.
Research Interests:sensory, motor, synaptic plasticity, integration, cerebellum, systems
Preceptor RotationsDr. Bell has not indicated availability for preceptor rotations at this time.
Faculty MentorshipDr. Bell has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.
Summary of Current Research
Plasticity and Central Control of Sensory Processing
Most sensory regions of the brain receive extensive input, not only from the periphery or from lower levels of the same sensory system, but also from other central structures. Most sensory regions also show some form of synaptic plasticity. The functional significance of the central inputs and of the plasticity are only poorly understood, however. These general issues are examined in the electrosensory system of weakly electric fish where the sensory input can be precisely controlled, where the central inputs are well understood, and where synaptic plasticity has been established. The synaptic plasticity has a role in the generation of memory-like expectations about sensory input that are based on past sensory input. The expectations are subtracted from the current sensory input, allowing inputs that are unexpected or novel to stand out more clearly. The phenomena are studied at the behavioral and systems levels using the whole animal and at the cellular level using an in vitro slice preparation.