Gidon Felsen, PhD

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


Felsen Lab

External Websites:

Graduate Program Affiliations:

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

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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 silicon probes and tetrodes — and perturbing — using pharmacology and optogenetics — neural activity in specific regions of the mouse brain during performance of behavioral tasks. In addition, we collaborate with faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery to obtain intraoperative recordings from patients with Parkinson's disease and epilepsy performing analogous decision-making tasks. Finally, we are interested in questions at the intersection between neuroscience and ethics.

Current studies focus on how the functional circuitry in the midbrain superior colliculus (SC) mediates active sensing, decisions and movements, and how activity in the SC is modulated by input from several upstream brain regions. Our long-term goal is to understand how neural activity is integrated across cortical and subcortical regions to make decisions and mediate flexible goal-directed behavior.

Anna Buteau

Anna Buteau

Professional Research Assistant

Taylor Yamauchi

Taylor Yamauchi

Graduate Student

Joshua Hunt

Joshua Hunt

Graduate Student


Felsen Lab 2023

Tekriwal, A., Felsen, G., Ojemann, S., Abosch, A., and Thompson, J. A. Context modulates substantia nigra pars reticulata spike activity in Parkinson's disease patients. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 2022 93:386-394.

Essig, J., Hunt, J., and Felsen, G. Inhibitory neurons in the superior colliculus mediate selection of spatially-directed movements. Communications Biology 2021, 4:719.

Tekriwal, A., Lintz, M. J., Thompson, J. A., and Felsen, G. Disrupted basal ganglia output during movement preparation in hemi-parkinsonian mice accounts for behavioral deficits. Journal of Neurophysiology 2021, 126:1248-1264.

Essig, J. and Felsen, G. Functional coupling between target selection and acquisition in the superior colliculus. Journal of Neurophysiology 2021, 126:1524-1535.

Doykos, T. K., Gilmer, J. I., Person, A. L., and Felsen, G. Monosynaptic inputs to excitatory and inhibitory neurons of the intermediate and deep layers of the superior colliculus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 2020, 528:2254-2268.

Lintz, M. J., Essig, J., Zylberberg, J., and Felsen, G. Spatial representations in the superior colliculus are modulated by competition among targets. Neuroscience 2019, 408:191-203.

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.

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