The goal of the Oldenburg lab is to understand how specific patterns of neural activity give rise to behaviors and actions. We know that groups of neurons encode motor movements in complex patterns, with many cells firing with millisecond precise sequences. But just correlating neural activity to action doesn’t tell us how that activity drives behaviors, instead we need to perform causal manipulations – recreating these multi-neuron patterns of activity to truly understand the motor system. To make these precise spatio-temporal patterns we use and develop a technique called Multiphoton Holographic Optogenetics and combine it with two-photon in vivo calcium imaging. Like with conventional optogenetics we use light to activate cells, but here we use high power lasers and a variety of optical tricks to make each spot of light roughly the size of a single neuron’s soma. Allowing us to activate the neurons we want without affecting their neighbors. Changing which neurons are activated and controlling the timing of each we can drive complex patterns of spikes in many different neurons, testing the role of different patterns of activity, and ultimately decode the language of the motor system.