Michael T. Roberts, Ph.D.

Michigan Neuroscience Institute Affiliate
Director, Hearing, Balance, and Chemical Senses T32 Training Program
Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Assistant Professor, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Faculty Member, Neuroscience Graduate Program

5424 Medical Science Unit I
1150 West Medical Center Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5616



As a postdoctoral fellow with Larry Trussell at the Vollum Institute (Oregon Health and Science University) in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Michael Roberts studied how inhibitory interneurons regulate microcircuit operations in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. Then, as a postdoctoral fellow and research associate with Nace Golding at The University of Texas at Austin, he investigated mechanisms used by neurons in the medial superior olive to process sound localization cues.

Areas of Interest

The overall aim of the Roberts Laboratory is to establish a deep understanding of the cellular, synaptic, and network mechanisms used by neural circuits in the auditory system to extract and encode important features of sounds.

The auditory system provides many distinct advantages for analyzing neural circuit functions. First, the sensory input to the auditory system is well defined. Second, early computations are divided among highly specialized nuclei in the brainstem. These nuclei perform specific operations, such as determining the spatial source of sounds, forming the building blocks of higher-level auditory tasks like speech processing. Third, the outputs of these diverse brainstem circuits converge in the midbrain in the inferior colliculus (IC). This makes the IC an excellent system for examining how circuits manipulate and combine well-defined information streams to generate higher-order representations.

Our specific goal is to define the mechanistic underpinnings of computations performed by neural circuits in the IC. Powerful methods, including in vitro and in vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics, genetically engineered mice, and viral transduction, have opened new avenues for circuit analysis. We are combining these approaches to address the following questions: What are the fundamental microcircuits of the IC, and how do they function? How do microcircuits shape the receptive fields of IC neurons? How are IC microcircuits modified by hearing and communication disorders like tinnitus and autism, and how can these changes be reversed?


  • B.A., Biology, University of Chicago (2000)
  • Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Texas - Austin (2005)

Published Articles or Reviews

  • Rivera-Perez LM, Kwapiszewski JT, Roberts MT. α3β4∗ Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors Strongly Modulate the Excitability of VIP Neurons in the Mouse Inferior Colliculus. Front Neural Circuits. 2021 Aug 9;15:709387. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2021.709387. PMID: 34434092; PMCID: PMC8381226.
  • Silveira MA, Anair JD, Beebe NL, Mirjalili P, Schofield BR, Roberts MT. Neuropeptide Y Expression Defines a Novel Class of GABAergic Projection Neuron in the Inferior Colliculus. J Neurosci. 2020 Jun 10;40(24):4685-4699. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0420-20.2020. Epub 2020 May 6. PMID: 32376782; PMCID: PMC7294802.
  • Goyer D, Roberts MT. Long-range Channelrhodopsin-assisted Circuit Mapping of Inferior Colliculus Neurons with Blue and Red-shifted Channelrhodopsins. J Vis Exp. 2020 Feb 7;(156):10.3791/60760. doi: 10.3791/60760. PMID: 32090997; PMCID: PMC7118657.
  • Goyer D, Silveira MA, George AP, Beebe NL, Edelbrock RM, Malinski PT, Schofield BR, Roberts MT. A novel class of inferior colliculus principal neurons labeled in vasoactive intestinal peptide-Cre mice. Elife. 2019 Apr 18;8:e43770. doi: 10.7554/eLife.43770. PMID: 30998185; PMCID: PMC6516826.

Please see the full list of publications here!

Web Sites