Walter Gonzalez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology

Walter G. Gonzalez received his B.A. in physics and Ph.D. in chemistry from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Dr. Gonzalez completed his postdoctoral training in systems neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology before joining the UCSF Department of Physiology as an assistant professor. Dr. Gonzalez has received awards from the American Heart Association, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and is a Chan Zuckerberg Investigator.

Neurological disorders are estimated to affect a billion people and cause approximately 12 % of all deaths worldwide. Consequently, there is a significant need to develop a fundamental knowledge of how neuronal activity controls behavior and how neurological disorders affect the activity of distributed neuronal networks. Recent technical innovations have provided opportunities to record large-scale neuronal activity at the single-neuron level. Applying these technologies to investigate neuronal computation in multiple brain areas in behaving animals will reveal fundamental insight into novel mechanisms by which the brain processes information.  Research in my laboratory will focus on deciphering the computations performed by distributed networks of neurons. We have developed platforms to record neuronal activity in multiple brain areas in freely moving or head-fixed mice and songbirds. In the future, we will employ these platforms to develop a framework that describes how learned motor behaviors persist over time and adapt to overcome aging and disease. We are particularly interested in how the brain processes information during online (error correction) and offline periods (sleep), as well as during changes in cognitive demands and disease.


Project 1. What is the role of sleep in the maintenance of information encoded by networks of neurons? 

Project 2. How do social demands affect computation by distributed networks of neurons? 

Project 3. How do distributed neuronal networks reorganize to recover from ischemic lesions?