Joni Wallis

Research Expertise and Interest

prefrontal cortex, neurophysiology, executive control, decision making

Research Description

Neuropsychiatric disease is one of the most costly health burdens on modern societies. Pharmaceutical therapies have limited efficacy and drug companies are no longer pursuing research in this field due to the poor prospects for success. A fundamental problem is that neuropsychiatric disorders often involve very specific associations. For example, post-traumatic stress disorder can involve a single traumatic event. Pharmaceutical treatments lack the specificity to target the representation of specific associations in the brain. Wallis Lab's approach is to treat the brain as a complex computing device. A major goal of their research is the development of brain implants that can interact with the brain in order to treat neuropsychiatric disease. They accomplish this through high-channel count neurophysiological recordings, sophisticated algorithms for decoding neuronal information in real-time and closed-loop control of brain stimulation. In this way, they can develop devices that can detect and disrupt maladaptive associations and behaviors and restore the brain to the healthy state.

In the News

Findings offer new clues into the addicted brain

What drives addicts to choose drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, overeating or kleptomania — despite the risks? Campus neuroscientists have pinpointed the locations in the brain where calculations are made that can result in addictive and compulsive behavior. Their astonishing findings could lead to improved treatments for many addictions and disorders.

For neurons to work as a team, it helps to have a beat

When it comes to conducting complex tasks, it turns out that the brain needs rhythm, according to UC Berkeley researchers. Neuroscientists have found that cortical rhythms, or oscillations, can effectively rally groups of neurons in widely dispersed regions of the brain to engage in coordinated activity, much like a conductor will summon up various sections of an orchestra in a symphony.

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