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Optogenetic dissection of motor cortex dynamics and pathways

Final Report Summary - OPTOMOTORPATH (Optogenetic dissection of motor cortex dynamics and pathways)

A key question in neuroscience is the role of motor cortex in movement planning, execution and somatosensory perception. In this project we focused particularly on the role of neural oscillations as well as pathway specific communications. We investigated how to identify neurons by photo-tagging and how to manipulate neurons in a pathway specific manner. By doing so we revealed the impact of cortical neurons projecting to striatum for tactile perception. Further, we identified the impact of neurons of the rostral forelimb area on the caudal forelimb area in a layer specific manner. Moreover, we elucidated the effect of beta bursts on tactile perception via a newly developed real-time feedback system which couples ongoing neural oscillations with behavioral relevant signals. Via optogenetic manipulations we revealed a gamma-rhythmic gain modulation. Further, we investigated the role of motor cortex in planning and execution of movements and found a differentiation into slow and fast changes involved in the two aspects, respectively. The project established a core set of techniques and advanced our knowledge about the role of beta-bursts and cortical-striatal communication for tactile perception as well as neuronal population responses for motor planning and execution.