Britton Sauerbrei, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Neurosciences
School of Medicine

Research Information

Research Interests

The ability to move the body with skill and flexibility is a remarkable achievement of biological control, and the loss of this ability in disease or injury can be devastating. The neural circuits that control skilled movements are distributed broadly across the central nervous system and contain, in the mouse, tens of millions of functionally diverse neurons. Our central goals are to identify the principles governing the flow of neural activity across these large, distributed networks, to determine how these principles enable skilled motor control, and to discover how neural dynamics are altered in neurodegenerative diseases. To achieve these goals, we use high-density recording techniques to measure the activity of neural ensembles during natural movement, optogenetic approaches to manipulate this activity, and modern computational methods to extract models of the population dynamics from the resulting neurophysiological datasets.

Visit the Sauerbrei Lab website.


Gaffield MA, Sauerbrei BA, Christie JC. Cerebellum encodes and influences the initiation, performance, and termination of discontinuous movements in mice. eLife 2022; e71464.

Sauerbrei BA*, Guo J-Z*, Cohen JD*, Mischiati M, Guo W, Kabra M, et al. Cortical pattern generation during dexterous movement is input-driven. Nature 2020; 577:386-91.

Guo J-Z*, Sauerbrei BA*, Cohen JD, Mischiati M, Graves A, Pisanello F, et al. Disrupting cortico-cerebellar communication impairs dexterity. eLife 2021;10:e65906

Steinmetz NA*, Aydin C*, Lebdeva A*, Okun M*, Pachitariu M*, ..., Sauerbrei BA, ..., Harris TD. Neuropixels 2.0: A miniaturized high-density probe for stable, long-term brain recordings. Science 2021; 372:6539.


Sauerbrei BA, Lubenov EV, Siapas AG. Structured Variability in Purkinje Cell Activity during Locomotion. Neuron 2015; 87:840-52.



  • Session organizer and speaker: The motor thalamus in limb control - subcortical influences and contribution to cortical dynamics. Annual meeting of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement, Dubrovnik, Croatia (2020). Cancelled due to COVID-19. Title of talk: Input-driven pattern generation in mouse motor cortex during reaching.


  • Selected speaker, meeting on Mechanisms of Dexterous Behavior. Janelia Research Campus (2018).Title of talk: Normal and perturbed neural dynamics in motor cortex during a reach to grab task.


  • B. Sauerbrei, J.-Z. Guo, M. Mischiati, W. Guo, M. Kabra, N. Verma, B. Mensh, K. Branson, A. Hantman. Motor cortex is an input-dependent dynamical system controlling dexterous movement. Poster. Toyama, Japan: meeting of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement, 2019.


  • J.-Z. Guo , B. Sauerbrei, J. Cohen, M. Mischiati, F. Pisanello, K. M. Branson, A. Hantman. The pontine nuclei as a link for corticocerebellar communication in the control of dexterous movement. Program No. 227.12 / M22. Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2019.


  • B. Sauerbrei, J.-Z. Guo, J. Zheng, W. Guo, M. Kabra, N. Verma, M. Mischiati, K. Branson, A. Hantman. Normal and perturbed neural dynamics in motor cortex during a reach-to-grab task. Program No. 587.09/QQ21. Neuroscience Meeting Planner. San Diego, CA: Society for Neuroscience, 2018.