Randy Bruno, PhD

Departments and Divisions

  • Department of Neuroscience

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience
Randy Bruno, PhD

How do the neural networks of the cerebral cortex mediate sensation? Sensory information from the environment—for touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell—is encoded by cascades of excitation among neurons. As excitation spreads, these circuits transform the information into new representations that drive our behaviors. Neural processing underlies not only sensation but also working memory, decision making, and action planning and is inseparable from the circuits transforming that information. My laboratory has been conducting anatomical, physiological, imaging, and behavioral experiments to investigate the workings of sensory circuits, specifically in barrel cortex, which mediates rodents’ sense of touch with their large facial whiskers. We employ a variety of methods in our experiments, ranging from in vivo intracellular and extracellular recording, two-photon microscopy, optogenetics, to computational modeling. Recently, our laboratory began focusing on the role of cortical layers in specific behaviors.

Education and Training

  • BS, 1995 Cognitive Science, Carnegie-Mellon University
  • PhD, 2002 Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Lab Locations

  • Jerome L. Greene Science Center

    3227 Broadway
    New York, NY 10027
    (212) 853-1045

Contact Info

  • (212) 853-1044

Past Positions

2003-2007 Postdoctoral Researcher with Prof. Bert Sakmann

Dept. of Cell Physiology, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany


Teaching Responsibilities

Data Analysis for Neuroscientists (director)

Issues in Neural Circuitry (director)

Neuroscience section, The Body in Health & Disease II (lecturer)

Committees / Societies / Memberships

Member, The Society for Neuroscience

Member, The Kavli Institute for Brain Science

Member, The Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute

Honors and Awards

2010 Klingenstein Fellow

2010 Rita Allen Scholar

2013 Harold and Golden Lamport Research Award in the Basic Sciences (Columbia University)

2013 (inaugural) Grossman-Kavli Scholar

2013 Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award

2014 Ludwig Schaefer Research Scholar

Research Interests

  • Cognitive/Systems Neuroscience
  • Sensory Physiology
  • Synapses and Circuits
  • Theoretical Neuroscience


Lacefield CO et al (2019) Reinforcement learning recruits somata and apical dendrites across layers of primary sensory cortex. Cell Reports 26:1-9

Zhang W and Bruno RM (2019) High-order thalamic inputs to primary somatosensory cortex are stronger and longer lasting than cortical inputs. eLife 8:e44158.

Hong YK et al (2018) Sensation, movement, and learning in the absence of barrel cortex. Nature 561(7724):542-546.

Ramirez A et al (2014) Spatiotemporal receptive fields of barrel cortex revealed by reverse correlation of synaptic input. Nat.Neurosci. 17: 866-75

Schoonover CE et al (2014) Comparative strength and dendritic organization of thalamocortical and corticocortical synapses onto excitatory layer 4 neurons. J.Neurosci. 34: 6746-58

Constantinople CM and Bruno RM (2013) Deep cortical layers are activated directly by thalamus. Science 340: 1591-4

Oberlaender M, Ramirez A and Bruno RM (2012) Sensory experience restructures thalamocortical axons in adulthood. Neuron 74: 648-655

Constantinople CM and Bruno RM (2011) Effects and mechanisms of wakefulness on local cortical networks. Neuron 69: 1061-1068

Bruno RM (2011) Synchrony in sensation. Curr.Opin.Neurobiol. 21: 701-708

For a complete list of publications, please visit PubMed.gov