Dr. Wagner joined NINDS as a Stadtman Investigator in August 2021. Before joining the NIH, Dr. Wagner studied bioengineering at Harvard University, researching human motor control with Maurice Smith during a combined B.A./M.S., then obtained a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University under Mark Schnitzer, as well as postdoctoral training with Liqun Luo also at Stanford, developing novel strategies to study cortex-cerebellum circuitry in learning and behaving mice.
Our research aims to decipher the neural algorithms underlying the learning of novel skills, using multi-site in vivo two photon imaging and optogenetics during behavioral learning, computational circuit modeling, and viral-genetic neuroanatomical techniques. We've homed in on two major brain centers of learning, the neocortex and cerebellum, which compose 99% of all human neurons and are interconnected by canonical recurrent circuits that are universally conserved across all mammals. By observing and perturbing the interactions between these brain areas during learning, characterizing their connectivity, and modeling the system dynamics, we hope to extract the basic neural computations that support our remarkable ability for general learning, potentially shedding light on how these processes are disrupted in neurological disorders.
MJ Wagner, J Savall, O Hernandez, G Mel, H Inan, O Rumyantsev, J Lecoq, TH Kim, JZ Li, C Ramakrishnan, K Deisseroth, L Luo, S Ganguli, MJ Schnitzer. A neural circuit state change underlying skilled movements. Cell 184(14), 3731-3747 (2021).
SA Shuster✱, MJ Wagner✱, N Pan-Doh, J Ren, SM Grutzner, KT Beier, TH Kim, MJ Schnitzer, L Luo. The relationship between birth timing, circuit wiring, and physiological response properties of cerebellar granule cells. PNAS 118(23) (2021).
MJ Wagner, L Luo. Neocortex-cerebellum circuits for cognitive processing. Trends in Neurosciences 43(1), 42–54 (2020).
MJ Wagner, J Savall, TH Kim, MJ Schnitzer, L Luo. Skilled reaching tasks for head-fixed mice using a robotic manipulandum. Nature Protocols 15, 1237–1254 (2020).
MJ Wagner✱, TH Kim✱, J Kadmon, ND Nguyen, S Ganguli, MJ Schnitzer, L Luo. Shared cortex-cerebellum dynamics in the execution and learning of a motor task. Cell 177, 669–682 (2019).
MJ Wagner✱, TH Kim✱, J Savall, MJ Schnitzer, L Luo. Cerebellar granule cells encode the expectation of reward. Nature 544, 96–100 (2017).
Y Gong, MJ Wagner, JZ Li, MJ Schnitzer. Imaging neural spiking in brain tissue using FRET-opsin protein voltage sensors. Nature Communications 5, 3674 (2014).
MJ Wagner & MA Smith. Shared internal models for feedforward and feedback control. Journal of Neuroscience 28(42), 10663-10673 (2008).