A monumental challenge to neuroscience is to understand the operational function of neuronal networks that are linked to execution of specific behaviors. Our lab meets this challenge by addressing the organization of neuronal networks that are linked to the ability to produce movements, the origin of most behaviors.
We study the molecular, cellular and network diversification of locomotor circuitries in mammals with the scope of providing a unified understanding of the functional organization of neuronal circuits that execute the movement. For this we apply new physiological and molecular genetic approaches, including optogenetics, RNA seq, molecular tracing, and advanced imaging and electrophysiology.
We have deciphered the functional organization of spinal circuitries needed to produce changes in timing and coordination of locomotion and are targeting designated brainstem circuits involved in gating or context-dependent selection of the motor behavior.
We will use Parkinson disease models to probe the role of different motor structures in the development of disease-induced gait disturbances. The lab also investigate plasticity in spinal networks and motor neurons following lesions of the spinal cord to devise manipulations that may alleviate dysfunctional motor symptoms following spinal cord injury.
Our work bridges the gap between neuronal circuit organization and behavior and has strong translation potentials developing therapies for movement disorders after trauma or disease.