Joshua Downer


  • Graduate Student
  • Neuroscience Graduate Group
  • Sutter Lab


Research Summary

The acoustic environment contains numerous cues for behavior. For instance, when the phone rings, an appropriate behavior is to pick up. Sounds differ in the behaviors they evoke, as well as the consequences associated with them. The brain, therefore, must faithfully represent the physical properties of sounds (you must be able to distinguish the phone ringing from all the other sounds in the environment) while encoding the behavioral significance of those sounds so that the best action can be taken (depending on who you expect to be calling, you may or may not decide to pick up).

I'm interested in exploring how the brain adapts its response to sensory information as cognitive demands shift. Using threshold psychophysics and direct neural recordings from awake, behaving animals, I hope to contribute to our understanding of how organisms can flexibly interact with their environments.