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Research Fellows Directory

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Dr Rodrigo Quian Quiroga

Research Fellow


University of Leicester

Research summary

My research deals with the study of how neurons give rise to different brain

functions. To study these principles of neural coding, the gold standard in

Neuroscience is to record the activity of different neurons by using very thin

electrodes implanted into animals’ brains. In very particular cases, these

recordings are done in subjects suffering from epilepsy refractory to medication,

who are implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons. This allows the

extraordinary opportunity to study directly the neural correlates of different brain

functions in conscious humans that can give direct feedback of their perception

and behavior. In this respect, I study the responses of these neurons in visual

perception and memory tasks, focusing on how they abstract information, create

associations and episodic memories (e.g. watching a movie with a friend at the


The study of high-level brain functions requires dealing with massive amounts of

complex data. In this respect, a main line of my research deals with the

development of methodologies to study these recordings. A first goal is to

separate the activity of as many neurons as possible from the data registered by

each electrode, what is named ‘spike sorting’. A second goal is to make sense of

the data from large number of neurons using what is called ‘decoding algorithms’.

Although the technical details of decoding algorithms can be complicated, the idea

is quite simple: given the firing of many neurons, we try to predict the sensory

input or behaviour (e.g. moving an arm) that triggered this activity. The possibility

of predicting behavior from the neural activity has clinical application for the

development of Neural Prosthesis, such as a robot arm for paralyzed patients or

amputees that can be controlled directly from firing of neurons.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Study of complex brain processes with single cell recordings in humans.

Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards

Dates: Nov 2010 - Oct 2015

Value: £50,000