Photo of Michael Loose
  • Professor of Neuroscience


  • BA, USAF Academy, 1975
  • PhD, University Wisconsin Madison, 1986


My lab is interested in the principles underlying how groups of neurons communicate with each other so as to result in an organism's behavior and cognition.

The lab has two research areas of focus. One area of research is on human decision making processes. The lab uses EEG signals recorded from human participants making rapid decisions to examine how probability, reward, and personality, for example, affect cortical circuits underlying decision making. In parallel with the EEG experiments, the lab employs computational modeling of neural circuits in the frontal cortex to simulate how neurons might accomplish similar decision making.

The second area of focus is to study how neuronal circuits can produce a simpler, more stereotyped kind of neural output signal. Since extremely complex interactions between many brain cells result in relatively simple output patterns from the brain to the endocrine organs, this is a "simple" model to investigate the mechanisms the brain uses to produce patterned output. We examine how groups of neurons synchronize and time their output. We use the pulsatile signal from the brain of luteinizing hormone releasing hormone, which regulates the onset of puberty and adult reproductive competence, as our model system. The lab uses cellular and sub-cellular approaches and most recently computer models to gain a broader understanding of the mechanisms which are used to create this specific pattern of neural output.

Current Projects: Research projects presently ongoing with students doing Honors and independent research are focused on EEG studies looking at changes in frontal cortex and modeling of decision making circuits using simulated neurons with fairly realistic anatomy and physiology.

Teaching Interests:  Neurophysiology, Electrophysiology, Introductory Neuroscience and Laboratory, Neural Circuits and Neural Networks, Neuroscience of Thought.

Research Interests:  Neural correlates of decision making, computer modeling of neural circuits and mental function, and the neural control of hormonal release in reproduction.

Hamilton, S.E., Loose, M.D., qi, M., Levey, A.I., Hille, B. McKnight, G.S., Idzerda, R.L., and Nathanson, N.M.  1997.  Disruption of the m1 receptor gene ablates muscarinic receptor-dependent M current regulation and seizure activity in mice.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94:13311-13316.

Loose, M.D., Niu*, J.C., Nguyen*, T. and Thornton, J.T.  1995.  Estrogen modulation of two sub­populations of ß-endorphin neurons in ovariectomized guinea pigs distinguished by peripheral­ly injected fluorogold.  Endocrine, 3:827-831.

Loose, M.D., *Jakaitis, R., *Wheat, E., and Porterfield, A. Modifying the Probability of a Go Stimulus Prior to each Stimulus Presentation Alters the N2 Component of Event-Related Potentials.  35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, 877.1, 2005.

Pfaff, D., Kow, L, Loose, M.D., and Flanagan-Cato, L.  2008.  Reverse engineering the lordosis behavior circuit.  Hormones and Behavior, 54:347-354.  

Shapiro, M.S., Gomeza  J., Hamilton, S.E., Hille, B., Loose, M.D., Nathanson, N.M., Roche, J.P. and Wess, J.  2001.  Identification of subtypes of muscarinic receptors that regulate Ca2+ and K+ channel activity in sympathetic neurons.  Life Sciences, 68:2481-7.