Michael Mauk

Department Chair, Professor
Department of Neuroscience

To understand what brain systems compute, how learning contributes, how circuits, cells and synapses mediate this learning and computation.

Phone: 512-232-3978

Office Location
NHB 3.368

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Neuroscience, College of Natural Sciences
1 University Station C7000
Austin, TX 78712

Ph.D., Stanford University (1985)

Research Interests

Mechanisms of learning and plasticity, Information processing in the cerebellum, Computer simulation of cerebellum

Research Summary:

We investigate information processing and learning in the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. The levels of analysis are: 1) behavioral studies, reversible lesions and in vivo recordings of neural activity related to eyelid conditioning in the rabbit, 2) large-scale computer simulations of the cerebellum.

Eyelid conditioning: The cerebellum contributes to our ability to make accurate movements through experience (motor learning). We study a tractable example of motor learning -- delay eyelid conditioning in rabbits and mice -- to study the mechanisms of this learning. We also use trace eyelid conditioning in rabbits to study learning in prefrontal cortex and to study interactions between prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.

Computer simulations: The cerebellum is especially amenable to analysis using computer simulations, due to the relatively simple way it is engaged by motor learning and to well known and simple synaptic organization. We use large-scale simulations designed to reflect as accurately as possible key properties of the cerebellum to 1) test hypotheses regarding network properties of the cerebellum, 2) identify key experiments, and 3) as an overall index of our understanding of cerebellar mechanisms of motor learning.

2007 Hunt PS, Fanselow MS, Richardson R, Mauk MD, Freeman JH Jr, Stanton ME., Synapses, circuits, and the ontogeny of learning., Dev Psychobiol. 49: 649-663

2006 Ohyama T, Nores WL, Medina JF, Riusech FA, Mauk MD., Learning-induced plasticity in deep cerebellar nucleus., J. Neurosci. 26: 12656-63

2004 Mauk MD, Ohyama T., Extinction as new learning versus unlearning: considerations from a computer simulation of the cerebellum., Learn Mem 11: 566-571

2004 Mauk MD, Buonomano DV., The neural basis of temporal processing., Annu Rev Neurosci. 27: 307-340

2003 Ohyama T, Nores WL, Mauk MD., Stimulus generalization of conditioned eyelid responses produced without cerebellar cortex: implications for plasticity in the cerebellar nuclei., Learn Mem 10: 346-354

  • Chancellor's Award for Academic/Athletic Excellence, Univ. of New Orleans (1978)
  • Distinguished Psychology Undergraduate, University of New Orleans (1979)
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship, Stanford (1981-1984)
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society Postdoctoral Fellowship (1986-87)
  • National Down Syndrome Society Scholar (1988-89)
  • McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience Scholar (1989-92)
  • Consulting Editor, Behavioral Neuroscience (1994-1995)
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Neurophysiology (July, 2002- present)
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship (1981-1984)
  • Dean's committee post-doctoral fellowship (Stanford, 1985-86)