My lab studies the neural circuits that underlie the production of animal vocalizations. In particular, we study how and when mice produce ultrasonic vocalizations, which they use during courtship and other types of social interactions. First, we aim to understand how brains encode information about social context, which allows an animal to decide which type of vocalization to produce, or whether or not to vocalize in the first place. Second, whether you’re a mouse or a human, vocalizing requires the coordination of vocal muscle movements with respiration, and we are studying how this coordination is achieved by groups of brainstem neurons in the mouse. Finally, we are interested in better understanding how mouse ultrasonic vocalizations act as communication signals, and how this process might go awry in mouse models of human disorders that are characterized by communication deficits, such as autism spectrum disorder. To address these questions, we use optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations of neural activity, in vivo imaging of neuronal calcium dynamics, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, and measurements of vocalization and other social behaviors.
The Tschida Lab is opening its doors in January 2020, and we are actively recruiting post-docs, graduate students, and undergraduate students!