Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DisConn (Neural drivers of functional disconnectivity in brain disorders)
Reporting period: 2019-02-01 to 2020-07-31
From a purely experimental standpoint, we have made great progress in defining robust methods to map functional connectivity networks in the awake mouse brain, documenting the possibility of reliably mapping this phenomenon using a simple, yet robust acclimation protocol. We have also begun to assess the effect of network-level and cell-type specific manipulations of brain activity via optogenetics and chemogenetics. The resulting fMRI maps and electrophysiological recordings have revealed that silencing of cortical region results in paradoxical over-connectivity (manuscript submitted). This finding advances our understanding of the basis of neural coupling, challenging prevailing interpretations of functional and structural connectivity as being characterized by a dyadic relationship.
From a computational standpoint, we were able to produce a voxel-wise description of the mouse connectome which will be very important in probing the directional hierarchy of the functional connectome. Notably, this activity was accompanied by the development of a novel framework allowing directional inferences in rsfMRI connectivity, based on the use of transfer entropy measures. The resulting platform will allow us to probe and understand the role of directional silencing on the functional hierarchy of the mouse brain as per our action plan.
Most outreach activities related to this project have been carried out via my personal twitter handle (https://twitter.com/Gozzi_Ale). This choice was made to increase impact and breadth of dissemination with respect to canonical websites, which may have little or no engagement from external stakeholders and the general public. To more explicitly assess the impact of ERC funding to my research, I have added a mention to the ERC grant (and its acronym) in the description of my profile. All publications I have generated as part of this project have also been disseminated with reference to ERC funding.