Motor circuit function
Our studies aim at identifying the principles by which neuronal circuits orchestrate accurate and timely control of motor behavior. We thrive to understand how the nervous system can produce a large repertoire of movement patterns, covering diverse motor actions from locomotion to skilled forelimb tasks. To decipher how motor circuits engage in the control of movement and contribute to the generation of diverse actions, we unravel how neuronal subpopulations are organized into specific circuits, and we study the function of identified circuits in execution and learning of motor programs.
We address these questions using multi-facetted approaches combining many technologies. These include state-of-the-art mouse genetics, development and implementation of viral technologies for transsynaptic circuit tracing and functional manipulation by opto- and pharmacogenetics, quantitative behavioral analysis, electrophysiology and gene expression profiling of identified neuronal subpopulations.
The combination of these approaches allows us to assess connectivity and manipulate function in order to determine the role of defined circuit elements in animal behavior. Furthermore, they also enable us to uncover mechanisms involved in motor circuit assembly during development, as well as circuit plasticity during motor learning and in response to disease or injury.