Revealing how value is translated into action with simultaneous single neuron and multi-area resolution

2019 Seed Grant
Eric Yttri, Ph.D.
Carnegie Mellon University

Without movements, we are relegated to being trapped inside ourselves. Our understanding of the distributed brain circuits responsible for deciding what, how and why to perform movements has been limited by an inability to characterize how distributed networks of interlinked neurons orchestrate behavior. Recent advances have provided tantalizing glimpses into the spatial and temporal structure of the computations that local circuits perform. Unfortunately, these methods often lack the multi-scale, mutli-cell type, and temporal resolution necessary to discern the neural infrastructure of movement decisions. To address this problem, we propose to apply complimentary, novel approaches to establish how neurons across brain areas work together to create behavior, from the level of the single neuron to that of interconnected brain areas. By identified cell-types recording throughout all layers of motor cortex and striatum simultaneously, we are able to capture a detailed account of the evolving flow of information through the neural network. We will test our predictive model of motor decision mechanisms against these results, and in doing so, define a computational role for each cell type across the circuit.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The Role of Microglial Lysosomes in Selective Neuronal Vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the Nervous System Constructs Internal Models of the External World
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the Orchestra of Movement—Functional Role of Striatal Astrocytes in Health and Disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…