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Professor Randy Bruno


Starting 2022, I am a Tutorial Fellow in Neuroscience at St Peter’s College, College Lecturer at Oriel College and Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics.

I was a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, and tenured faculty at Columbia University. My college teaching is in Neuroscience, with emphasis on systems-level and circuit-level neuroscience.

Research Interests

In all mammals including humans, the cerebral cortex mediates the highest levels of cognition, from sensing our world, applying learned knowledge, making decisions, to executing movements. The long-term goal of my research program is to understand how this cognitive machinery is assembled from unique cortical cell types arranged in circuits with specific architectures. Many mental disorders are diseases of these cortical circuits. Evolution’s solutions to cognition are also adaptable to produce intelligent machines in research and medicine. I am working to uncover principles of cortical microcircuitry and computation by exploiting electrophysiology, cellular imaging, cellular manipulation, and computational modeling — all in the context of behavior. We use the rodent whisker-barrel system for our experiments because mice — one of the world’s most heavily used model organisms — rely predominantly on whisker-mediated touch to explore the world. My lab’s current focus is to understand the computational and behavioral roles of the different cortical layers.

Selected Publications

  1. Constantinople CM and Bruno RM (2013) Deep cortical layers are activated directly by thalamus. Science 340: 1591-4
  2. Hong YK, Lacefield CO, Rodgers CC, and Bruno RM (2018) Sensation, movement, and learning in the absence of barrel cortex. Nature 561(7724):542-546
  3. Lacefield CO, Pnevmatikakis EA, Paninski L, and Bruno RM (2019) Reinforcement learning recruits somata and apical dendrites across layers of primary sensory cortex. Cell Reports 26:1–9,
  4. Rodgers CC, Nogueira R, Pil BC, Greeman EA, Park JM, Hong YK, Fusi S, and Bruno RM (2021) Sensorimotor strategies and neuronal representations for shape discrimination. Neuron 109:2308-2325,
  5. Schmidt ERE, Zhao HT, Park JM, Dipoppa M, Monsalve-Mercado MM, Dahan JB, Rodgers CC, Hillman EM, Miller KD, Bruno RM, and Polleux F (2021) A human-specific modifier of cortical circuit connectivity and function improves sensory perception. Nature 599:640-644,