Hooks, Bryan M
How does the brain control movement of the body?
In mammals, motor cortex is specialized for the planning, initiation, control, and learning of movements. But the computations performed by this circuit are not known. My research seeks to (a) identify the specific connections of defined cell types in motor cortex, (b) explain how these specific connections drive neuronal firing, and (c) characterize the connections that change strength during learning. Thus, our goal is a circuit diagram of the brain with a functional understanding of how the circuit processing information.
The tools needed to define cortical circuits are being rapidly developed: New transgenic mouse lines label specific sets of excitatory pyramidal neurons and inhibitory interneurons in mouse neocortex, giving us access to defined cell types. We use these to identify cell-type specific inputs and outputs in the motor cortex. Different cell types are believed to play distinct roles in the local circuit, so understanding their specific inputs will help explain the specific response properties of each cell type. New optical and genetic methods for circuit mapping make it possible to independently excite one or more neuron populations, thus quantifying the connectivity of local and long-range inputs to different cortical cell types.
My short term goals are to:
We use mouse motor and sensory cortex as a model system, taking advantage of cell-type specific mouse lines and optogentic tools. Our techniques include stereotaxic surgery, use of AAV for expressing optogenetic tools and fluorophores, mouse brain slice and laser-scanning microscopy to map circuits, and anatomical techniques for reconstructing circuits. We will continue to develop new techniques to address questions of the neural basis for motor control.
Dual-channel circuit mapping reveals sensorimotor convergence in the primary motor cortex.
Organization of cortical and thalamic input to pyramidal neurons in mouse motor cortex.
A toolbox of Cre-dependent optogenetic transgenic mice for light-induced activation and silencing.
Long-range neuronal circuits underlying the interaction between sensory and motor cortex.
Laminar analysis of excitatory local circuits in vibrissal motor and sensory cortical areas.
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of Pittsburgh Department of Neurobiology