Randy Bruno, PhD

Profile Headshot


Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience


  • German


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

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

Honors & 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


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.

Research Interests

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

Selected Publications

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