hot and cold paw

Poulet Lab

Neural Circuits and Behaviour


Our long-term goal is to identify neural mechanisms of sensory processing and perception. We investigate somatosensory perception in the mouse forelimb sensorimotor system.



A mechanistic understanding of sensory perception requires an integrated approach. We combine cell-type specific electrophysiological and optical approaches with behavioral techniques to record and manipulate neural activity in the behaving mouse.

The mouse forelimb system

Mice interact with the world using their forelimbs. They are used not only for locomotion and grasping but also for sensing objects in their nearby environment. The forepaw is a relevant model system with sensory afferent innervation closely resembling that of the human arm and hand. Moreover, it is a genetically accessible system where it is possible to deliver sensory stimuli while monitoring and manipulating cell-type specific neuronal activity with high temporal and spatial resolution in behaving animals.

Thermal perception

Thermal stimulation of the skin evokes robust sensory percepts, rapid motor responses and changes in body temperature. Recently, we have shown that mice can perceive tiny changes in the skin temperature with a resolution comparable to that of humans. The identification of ion channels mediating thermal and tactile sensory transduction in primary somatosensory afferent neurons has provided a molecular entry point, but much less is known about the central neural circuits governing thermal perception. We aim to map and understand the cellular and circuit mechanisms of thermal perception.

Synaptic integration in vivo

While a great deal is known about monosynaptic connectivity, transmission and integration from work in brain slices, very little is known in living mammals. What are the local and long-distance connectivity rates? How is synaptic transmission affected by network activity? What is the link between connectivity and function? We have developed an approach to study monosynaptic transmission in vivo using multiple two-photon targeted patch clamp recordings from cortical neurons of identified cell type.





We are very grateful to our funding agencies. Currently, our lab is funded by:

Deutsch Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

European Research Council (ERC)

Helmholtz Association

Research Topics