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Department of Physiology and Biophysics

University of Colorado Department of Physiology and Biophysics

Gidon Felsen, PhD

Assistant Professor

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:

Bioethics research​

Graduate Program Affiliations:

-Medical Scientist Training Program
-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.
​Quang Dang
Professional Research Assistant
​Benjamin Peterson
Professional Research Assistant

Jaclyn Essig
Graduate Student

​Mario Lintz
Graduate Student, MSTP/Neuroscience
​Beth Stubblefield
Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrew Wolf
MSTP Student


Selected Publications:

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

Stubblefield, E. A., Thompson, J. A., and Felsen, G. Optogenetic cholinergic modulation of the mouse superior colliculus in vivo. Journal of Neurophysiology 2015; 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.

External Website:

Graduate Program Affiliations:

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