Sandra J. Kuhlman, PhD

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Neuroscience




Education & Training

PhD, University of Kentucky (2001)

Campus Address

159B Mellon Institute

One-Line Research Description

Influence of cortical inhibitory circuits on sensory development and perceptual learning.

As adults we constantly face challenges in our environment and must adapt our brain circuits to navigate new situations. The two driving questions of my research are: What are the neural substrates of learning? How are neural circuits for learning constructed in the first place? By splicing the DNA that codes for fluorescent proteins found in jellyfish and corals into the genome of mice, in combination with state-of-the-art multiphoton laser-scanning microscopy, we visualize and track the circuit changes that occur in the brains of animals as they learn new skills. The specific goal of my research is to understand the influence of cortical inhibitory circuits on sensory development and perceptual learning. I use a range of techniques, including electrophysiological recordings of targeted cell types in-vivo and in-vitro, 2-photon microscopy, behavioral methods, and computational analyses.

Representative Publications

Kuhlman, S.J., O'Connor, D.H., Fox, K. and Svoboda, K. Structural plasticity within the barrel cortex during initial phases of whisker-dependent learning J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 23; 34(17): 6078-83 

Kuhlman, S.J., Olivas, N.D., Tring, E., Ikrar, T., Xu, X. and Trachtenberg, J.T. A disinhibitory microcircuit initiates critical-period plasticity in the visual cortex. Nature. 2013 Sept 26: 501 (7468): 543-6. Doi; 10.1038/nature12485) 

Kuhlman, S.J., Tring, E. and Trachtenberg, J.T. Fast-spiking interneurons have an initial orientation bias that is lost with vision. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jul 12: 14(9): 1121-3. doi: 10.1038/nn.2890. 

Kuhlman, S.J., Lu, J., Lazarus, M.S. and Huang, Z.J. Maturation of GABAergic inhibition promotes strengthening of temporally coherent inputs among convergent pathways. PloS Comput Biol. 2010 Jun 3: 6(6):e1000797. 

Kuhlman, S.J. and Huang, Z.J. High-resolution labeling and functional manipulation of specific neuron types in mouse brain by Cre-activated viral gene expression. PloS One. 2008 April 16:3(4): e2005.