David Ehrlich

Credentials: Assistant Professor

Position title: Animal Behavior, Aquatic Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Neuroscience, Physiology

Email: dehrlich@wisc.edu

121 iBio Research Building

lab webpage

The nervous system orchestrates an incredible array of actions by coordinating movements across the body. Using coordination we make music, play sports, communicate, and move about the world. Even walking requires moving our legs, arms, trunks, and heads in conjunction, and we do it all without a conscious thought.

At first glance, coordination seems hard-wired. A concert violinist makes a sequence of precise movements perfectly and on cue. But beneath the surface, the neural processes that create these movements are anything but fixed! The violinist can adapt the sequence to another tempo, improvise a solo in key, or learn a new song from scratch. This fundamental ability to adapt and learn coordination is critical for populating our repertoire of actions as children.

Questions needing answers:

How does the brain transform movement goals into patterns of activity that coordinate muscles across the body?

Which cells and synapses encode learning about coordination, particularly as developing animals discover new and better ways to move?

Why is coordination surprisingly vulnerable in neurodegenerative and developmental disorders?