Sensory and Motor Cortex

Spinal cord injuries sever the connections between the brain and the spinal cord resulting in paralysis.  There are networks of neurons contained within the spinal cord termed central pattern generators, which generate the muscle commands necessary for walking, without requiring coordinating input from the brain.  Understanding the neuronal circuits underlying locomotion will be critical for the design and development of better therapies to help paralyzed individuals regain muscle control.  Such insights will allow classes of neurons to be targeted either for activation or regeneration in order to help paralyzed individuals regain muscle control, potentially allowing us to ‘bypass’ the initiation signal from the brain altogether, which in these individuals has been severed.

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…