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Development of functional organization of the visual circuits in mice

Project description

A closer look at the mouse visual system’s neural circuitry

To gain insights into the workings of the human brain and improve treatments for neurological disorders, researchers are studying the functional development of neural circuits in the mouse visual system. Their aim is to understand how different neurons communicate to process visual information. It is in this context that the CIRCUITASSEMBLY project, funded by the European Research Council, aims to identify key principles of neural circuit development and has identified specific cell types in the superior colliculus of developing and adult mice. The project will answer questions about sensory feature processing and behaviour, recognising that understanding individual functional cell types is necessary for understanding brain development mechanisms.

Objective

The key organizing principles that characterize neuronal systems include asymmetric, parallel, and topographic connectivity of the neural circuits. The main aim of my research is to elucidate the key principles underlying functional development of neural circuits by focusing on those organizing principles. I choose mouse visual system as my model since it contains all of these principles and provides sophisticated genetic tools to label and manipulate individual circuit components. My research is based on the central hypothesis that the mechanisms of brain development cannot be fully understood without first identifying individual functional cell types in adults, and then understanding how the functions of these cell types become established, using cell-type-specific molecular and synaptic mechanisms in developing animals. Recently, I have identified several transgenic mouse lines in which specific cell types in a visual center, the superior colliculus, are labeled with Cre recombinase in both developing and adult animals. Here I will take advantage of these mouse lines to ask fundamental questions about the functional development of neural circuits. First, how are distinct sensory features processed by the parallel topographic neuronal pathways, and how do they contribute to behavior? Second, what are the molecular and synaptic mechanisms that underlie developmental circuit plasticity for forming parallel topographic neuronal maps in the brain? Third, what are the molecular mechanisms that set up spatially asymmetric circuit connectivity without the need for sensory experience? I predict that my insights into the developmental mechanism of asymmetric, parallel, and topographic connectivity and circuit plasticity will be instructive when studying other brain circuits which contain similar organizing principles.

Host institution

AARHUS UNIVERSITET
Net EU contribution
€ 1 500 000,00
Address
NORDRE RINGGADE 1
8000 Aarhus C
Denmark

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Region
Danmark Midtjylland Østjylland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 1 500 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)