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Thomas Preuss

Ph.D., Department of Biological Cybernetics University of Tübingen

Contact Information:
Thomas Preuss
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Hunter College and CUNY Biopsychology Graduate Program
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
Tel: 212-396-6358

Current Areas of Research:
Research in my lab focuses on mechanistic questions of neural decision-making and plasticity in sensorimotor systems. More specifically, we are studying how the sensory and social environments modify the expression of adaptive behaviors at the level of individual neurons and their networks.

For this purpose, we use two different model systems, the Mauthner cell system of teleost fish and the squid giant-axon system, which mediate the startle escape behaviors in these animals. These systems are remarkable in that individual neurons and their connections are identifiable and can be investigated in vivo at the synaptic, cellular, and network levels. Moreover, the neural activity of these neurons can be related quantitatively to distinct aspects of the startle-escape behavior. The behavior and the underlying neural networks have been shown to be modifiable by experience, situational context, environmental conditions, and social status.

We employ a wide range of approaches including high-speed video analysis of behavior, in vivo electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, immunohistochemistry, and pharmacology. Most recently, we also use the Mauthner cell system as an identifiable target for single-cell molecular biology.

Current projects focus on the Mauthner-cell escape system and include (i) dendritic integration of complex visual and auditory stimuli and decision-making in the Mauthner neuron, (ii) the neural mechanisms that underlie the sensory filtering phenomenon prepulse inhibition (PPI), and (iii) adaptive changes in the escape behavior of African cichlid fish that are influenced by the social status and their underlying neural mechanisms.

Selected Publications:

Weiss SA, Preuss T* and Faber DS* (*shared last authorship) Phase encoding in the Mauthner system: implications in left-right sound source discrimination. J Neurosci (in press).

Szabo T, Preuss T and Faber DS (2008) Effects of temperature acclimation on a central neural circuit and its behavioral output. J Neurophysiol 100(6):2997-3008.

Neumeister H, Szabo T and Preuss T (2008) Behavioral and physiological characterization of sensorimotor gating in the goldfish startle response J Neurophysiol 99(3):1493-502.

Weiss SA, Preuss T and Faber DS (2008) A role of electrical inhibition in sensorimotor integration Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105(46):18047-52.

Weiss SA, Zottoli SJ, Do SC, Faber DS and Preuss T (2006) Correlation of C-start behaviors with neural activity recorded from the hindbrain in free-swimming goldfish (Carassius auratus). J Exp Biol 209:4788-801.

Szabo TM, Weiss SA, Faber DS* and Preuss T* (*shared last authorship) (2006) Representation of auditory signals in the M-cell: role of electrical synapses. J Neurophysiol 95:2617-29.

Preuss T, Osei-Bonsu, PE, Weiss, SA, Wang C, and Faber DS (2006) Neural representation of object approach in as decision-making motor circuit. J Neurosci 26:3454-64.

Preuss T, and Faber DS (2003) Central cellular mechanisms underlying temperature-dependent changes in the goldfish startle escape behavior. J Neurosci 23(13):5617-26.

Preuss T, and Gilly WF (2000) Role of prey-capture experience on development of the escape response in the squid Loligo opalescens: a physiological correlate in an identified neuron. J Exp Biol 203: 559-65.

Psych 301: Sensation and Perception
Psych 711: Neuroscience II

Graduate Students:
Dr. Violeta Medan
Dr. Heike Neumeister
Kelly Ryberg

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