Mapping Sensory-Motor Pathways

Principal Investigator: Michael Dickinson
Caltech Neuroscience
Title: “Integrative Functional Mapping of Sensory-Motor Pathways”
BRAIN Category: Understanding Neural Circuits (RFA NS-14-009)

Dr. Dickinson will lead an interdisciplinary team to study how the brain uses sensory information to guide movements, by recording the activity of individual neurons from across the brain in fruit flies, as they walk on a treadmill and see and smell a variety of sights and odors.

Flying Patch Clamp. Meausuring interneurons while flying.

Flying Patch Clamp. Meausuring interneurons while flying.

NIH Webpages

Project Description

The goal of the project team is to develop a robust, multi-lab research framework, enabled by large scale imaging, which will lead to principled integrative models of ethologically-relevant behaviors that incorporate a detailed knowledge of individual cell classes. The specific neurobiological question that the team will address is how the brain integrates sensory information in order to guide locomotion in a particular direction. Our strategy is to systematically map and functionally characterize the neural circuits that underlie goal-directed locomotion, using the fruit fly, Drosophila, in order to exploit the convergence of powerful genetic, optical, behavioral, and analytical tools that are available in this species. The proposal focuses primarily on refining functional imaging approaches to map the activity of small brain regions and populations of individual neurons in intact, behaving animals while they respond to a controlled panel of sensory stimuli. We have constructed a strategic plan consisting of seven interrelated research modules that create a flow for discovery that starts with functional imaging and ends with the development of integrative models for sensory-guided behavior. The goal of this proposal is to bring all research modules to the requisite level of maturity for future research. To achieve this goal this project will develop robust, quantitative and high throughput methods for: Functional 2-photon imaging using pan-neural drivers. ArcLight imaging using selected driver lines. Functional 2-photon imaging using pan-neural drivers. Circuit analysis of sensory motor pathways. And a plan for an integrative computational model of sensory-guided locomotion.

Public Health Relevance Statement

Understanding sensory-motor integration should lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of movement disorders in human patients, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and spinal cord injury. Furthermore, understanding how the brain processes sensory information and uses it to direct movements can aid in the design and optimization of robotic prosthetic limbs, and in the longer term, may also contribute to the development of prosthetic devices for replacement of damaged sensory modalities.

NIH Spending Category

Behavioral and Social Science; Bioengineering; Neurosciences; Rehabilitation

Project Terms

Address; analytical tool; Animal Model; Animals; base; Behavior; Behavioral; Behavioral Paradigm; Biomechanics; Brain; Brain region; cell body (neuron); Cell physiology; Cells; Computer Simulation; design; Development; Drosophila genus; Electrophysiology (science); Elements; Ensure; Flying body movement; Functional disorder; Functional Imaging; Genetic; Goals; Human; Image; Individual; innovation; insight; Knowledge; Lead; Limb structure; Locomotion; Maps; mathematical model; Membrane; Methods; Modality; Modeling; Motor; Motor Pathways; Movement; Movement Disorders; neural circuit; Neurobiology; Neurons; Online Systems; Optics; optogenetics; Parkinson Disease; Patients; Population; Process; Prosthesis; public health relevance; relating to nervous system; Research; research study; response; Robotics; Sensory; Sensory Process; sensory stimulus; Speed (motion); Spinal cord injury; Strategic Planning; stroke; Testing; tool; two-photon; voltage; Walking; Work

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