Gidon Felsen, PhD
Associate Professor

Gidon Felsen, PhD

Department of Physiology and Biophysics
University of Colorado School of Medicine

RC1 North Tower, P18-7113
Mail Stop 8307
Aurora, CO 80045

Tel: (303) 724-4532

Fax: (303) 724-4501


External Websites:

Graduate Program Affiliations:

  • Neuroscience
  • Medical Scientist Training Program
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Sciences Program
  • Integrative Biology

My lab is interested in how the nervous system makes and acts upon decisions. We use electrophysiological, behavioral, pharmacological, molecular, and computational methods to study how sensory representations are transformed into plans for motor output. We are interested in how these processes occur in the normal brain, as well as how they are affected by pathological conditions.

We primarily examine these questions by recording – using tetrodes – and manipulating – using pharmacology and optogenetics – neural activity in specific regions of the mouse brain during performance of a sensory-guided movement choice task. We have recently begun collaborating with faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery to obtain intraoperative recordings from Parkinsonian patients performing analogous tasks.

Current studies focus on the distinct roles played by several interconnected subcortical brain regions: the superior colliculus, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, and substantia nigra pars reticulata. Ultimately, we would like to understand how activity in these circuits is integrated with cortical output in order to make decisions and mediate flexible goal-directed behavior.

Jaclyn EssigJaclyn Essig

Graduate Student



Andy TerkriwalAndy Terkriwal

Graduate Student



Taylor YamauchiTaylor Yamauchi

Graduate Student



Nathan BakerNathan Baker

Professional Research Assistant



Joshua HuntJoshua Hunt

Graduate Student



Felsen Lab members

Lintz, M. J. and Felsen, G. (2016). Basal ganglia output reflects internally-specified movements. eLife 5:e13833.

Thompson, J. A., Costabile, J. D., and Felsen, G. (2016). Mesencephalic representations of recent experience influence decision-making. eLife 5:e16572.

Essig, J. A. and Felsen, G. (2016). Warning! Dopaminergic modulation of the superior colliculus. Trends in Neurosciences 39:2-4.

Wolf, A. B., Lintz, M. J., Costabile, J. D., Thompson, J. A., Stubblefield, E. A., and Felsen, G. (2015). An integrative role for the superior colliculus in selecting targets for movements. Journal of Neurophysiology 114:2118-2131.

Stubblefield, E. A., Thompson, J. A., and Felsen, G. (2015). Optogenetic cholinergic modulation of the mouse superior colliculus in vivo. Journal of Neurophysiology 114:978-988.

Thompson, J. A. and Felsen, G. (2013). Activity in mouse pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus reflects action and outcome in a decision-making task. Journal of Neurophysiology 110:2817-2829.

Stubblefield, E. A., Costabile, J., and Felsen, G. (2013). Optogenetic investigation of the role of the superior colliculus in orienting movements. Behavioural Brain Research 255:55-63.

Al-Juboori, S., Dondzillo, A., Stubblefield, E. A., Felsen, G., Lei T. C., and Klug, A. (2013). Light scattering properties vary across different regions of the adult mouse brain. PLoS ONE 8(7):e67626

Perry, C. and Felsen, G. (2012). Rats can make relative perceptual judgments about sequential stimuli. Animal Cognition 15(4)473-481.

Felsen, G. and Mainen, Z. F. (2012). Midbrain contributions to sensorimotor decision making. Journal of Neurophysiology 108(1)135-147.

Felsen, G. and Mainen, Z. F. (2008). Neural substrates of sensory-guided locomotor decisions in the rat superior colliculus. Neuron 60, 137-148.

  • ​Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring Award (2016)
  • Greenwall Faculty Scholar in Bioethics (2014)
  • Boettcher Foundation Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Award (2010)