Multisensory Integration in the Auditory System

Department                           Department of Neuroscience

Principal investigator          Aaron Wong

E-mail address            



Molecular and functional profiles of auditory neurons with single cell transcriptomics data

The inferior colliculus is a key subcortical integration center in the auditory system. Despite its importance, a proper molecular characterization of its highly heterogeneous cell types is still lacking. This project aims to fill this urgently needed gap by performing state-of-the-art single cell transcriptomics analysis on inferior colliculi from mice. We will first make use of a recently published open spatial transcriptomics data (“Allen Brain Cell Atlas”) in combination of dimensionality reduction bioinformatics tools to identify molecularly defined sub-populations within the inferior colliculus and other auditory nuclei. A natural extension of the project would be to characterize the electrophysiological properties of a selected neuronal sub-population that process non-auditory information, and relate these properties with an in-depth characterization of their gene expression profiles.


  • Analysis of single cell transcriptomics data in R
  • Immunohistochemistry and/or in situ hybridization techniques on brain tissue
  • In vivo viral labelling OR patch-clamp electrophysiology in brain slices

Further reading

Oliver, D.L. (2005). Neuronal organization in the inferior colliculus. In J. A. Winer and C. E. Schreiner (Eds.), The inferior colliculus (pp. 69–114). New York: Springer.


Hearing touches and vibrations: investigating multi-sensory integration in auditory midbrain

Supervisor: Blom Kraakman

Sensory systems allow us to detect the world around us. The inferior colliculus (IC) is a major station of the ascending auditory pathway, but interestingly also receives inputs from somatosensory regions such as the somatosensory cortex, dorsal column nuclei and trigeminal nuclei. However, what information these connections convey and their function remain mysterious. In this project, you will target somatosensory neurons in the IC and characterize their activities in physiological experiments. Further identification can be done using a combination of viral tracers and optogenetics. The identification of somatosensory stimuli that best activate these somatosensory neurons will aid in distinguishing between competing hypotheses (e.g. suppression of self-generated sounds or to aid in orientation to sounds) in the function of this circuit.


  • Microsurgery techniques (and viral injections)
  • Multielectrode recording (combined with optogenetics)
  • Data analysis and programming in Matlab, with utilization of openly available packages (e.g. Kilosort)

Further reading

Lesicko, A.M.H. et al. (2016). Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 11037–11050. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4134-15.2016.

Straka, M.M. et al. (2015). Neuroscience, 300, 325–337. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.05.032.