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Final Report Summary - OPTO-LOCO (Unraveling the circuits of locomotion with opto-genetic manipulation of neuronal activity in awake behaving animals)

Motor functions such as locomotion and posture are assumed to typically rely on the spinal cord to integrate either inputs from the brain, in order to initiate voluntary movements, or from the periphery, in order to deploy spinal reflexes based on information from the outside world.

Noticing that our posture and locomotion are strongly modulated by our inner states, the Wyart lab investigates a third possibility : what if the spinal cord itself could integrate internal sensory information to modulate motor functions according to our inner states?

The team aims to unravel how chemo-, mechano- and thermo-sensory inputs shape locomotion. Recently Dr Wyart and colleagues identified that
cerebrospinal fluid contacting neurons (CSF-cNs) were mysterious sensory neurons located in the center of the spinal cord. The team in the last two years has published now five publications showing the role of this new sensory pathway:

In Fidelin et al., Current Biology 2015, we demonstrate the circuits formed by CSF-cNs in the spinal cord and its impact on slow locomotion,
In Bohm, Prendergast et al Nature Communications 2016, we show the inputs of these CSF-cNs are mechanosensory,
In Hernandez et al., Nature Communications 2016, we established a novel way to perform 3D holography in vivo.
In Sternberg et al., Current Biology in press, we show how to silence effectively neurons in vivo.
In Hubbard et al., in revision, we demonstrate that CSF-cNs can also control posture.

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