The assembly and function of neural circuits for movement
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Movement is our only way to interact with the environment, to explore it and modify it. We study the organization and function of neural circuits controlling movement in mice, with particular focus on goal oriented movements. We seek to understand three fundamental aspects of motor control:
- How animals produce an accurate body-bound map of the surrounding space that can be used to direct targeted movements
- Which neuronal populations are directly involved in orchestrating goal-oriented movements towards salient positions of this map
- How, during development, these neuronal populations are assembled into functional networks with the degree of specificity needed to coordinate movements.
In order to answer these questions, we focus on the motor network controlling head motion. The head system has the advantage of being relatively simple, if compared to the limb system, with only one individual joint and a limited set of muscles. Moreover, in rodents, target directed head movements are possibly the most commonly used strategy to interact with the world.
We have recently identified genetically-defined populations of neurons in the murine midbrain implicated in various steps of the control of head movements1. We also recently developed novel viral strategies that allow us to functionally manipulate neural networks2. By combining these two we now aim to define and functionally dissect the brain-wide circuits responsible for the control of voluntary movements towards targets of interest. We investigate these questions using and developing a variety of methodologies. These include: mouse genetics, viral strategies for circuit manipulation, in vivo electrophysiology & imaging in freely moving animals, optogenetics and behavioral assays in virtual reality environments.
- Jonathan J. Wilson, Nicolas Alexandre, Caterina Trentin and Marco Tripodi. (2018)
Three-dimensional representation of motor space in the mouse superior colliculus.
Current Biology, 28, 1-12
- Dispatch: Arseny Finkelstein, Current Biology 28, R656–R677, June 4, 2018
- Ernesto Ciabatti, Ana González-Rueda, Letizia Mariotti, Fabio Morgeseand Marco Tripodi. (2017)
Life-long genetic and functional access to neural circuits using Self-inactivating Rabies virus.
- Spotlight Article: Menegas, Uchida, N. and Uchida, M. Trends in Neurosciences, 2017 Sept 7