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Sensory Integration in the Striatal Microcircuit

Final Report Summary - SENSTRIATUM (Sensory Integration in the Striatal Microcircuit)

The research performed with support of the ERC grant pertains to the striatal microcircuits underlying sensory integration. Motor behaviour requires the integration of sensory information from both sides of the body and from different sensory modalities. The basal ganglia are essential for such sensory-motor processing and underlie motor planning, performance, and learning. The striatum is the input layer of the basal ganglia, acting as a “hub” that receives synaptic inputs from different brain regions, interacting primarily with the GABAergic striatal microcircuit. Previous work in basal ganglia focused mainly on their role in motor and reward related functions, but the functional role of striatum in sensory processing was largely unknown.
In this study we elucidated principles of sensory processing performed by the striatal microcircuit. We used In vivo whole-cell recordings from striatal neurons, multineuron whole-cell recordings in slices, and optogenetic stimulation, to study the connectivity of neurons within the striatum and how they process sensory inputs. We showed that different types of striatal neurons are extremely selective in choosing their synaptic partners. We also showed that the striatum is a sensory structure and not only involved in motor related tasks. We were able to show that individual striatal neurons can respond to sensory inputs from both sides of the body and some integrate sensory input from different modalities such as tactile and visual inputs.