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Dissecting neural circuits for goal-oriented actions

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 03, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Movement is our only way to interact with the environment, to explore it and modify it. We study the organization and function of neural circuits controlling movement in mice, with particular focus on goal oriented movements. We seek to understand three fundamental aspects of motor control:

1.How animals produce an accurate body-bound map of the surrounding space that can be used to direct targeted movements

2.Which neuronal populations are directly involved in orchestrating goal-oriented movements towards salient positions of this map

3.How, during development, these neuronal populations are assembled into functional networks with the degree of specificity needed to coordinate movements.

The candidate will focus on one of these three broad areas.

In order to answer these questions, we focus on the motor network controlling head movements as, in rodents, target directed head movements are possibly the most commonly used strategy to interact with the world.

We investigate these questions using and developing a variety of methodologies. These include mouse genetics, viral strategies for circuit tracing and functional manipulation, in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics and behavioral assays in virtual reality environments and computational models.

Funding Notes

Please see the LMB PhD website for further details: View Website


Laura Masullo, Letizia Mariotti, Nicolas Alexandre, Paula Freire-Pritchett, Jerome Boulanger and Marco Tripodi. Genetically defined functional modules for spatial orienting in the mouse superior colliculus. Current Biology, 29, 1-14, September 9, 2019

Jonathan J. Wilson, Nicolas Alexandre, Caterina Trentin and Marco Tripodi. Three-dimensional representation of motor space in the mouse superior colliculus. Current Biology, 2018 June 4; 28, 1-12

Ernesto Ciabatti, Ana González-Rueda, Letizia Mariotti, Fabio Morgese and Marco Tripodi. Life-long genetic and functional access to neural circuits using Self-inactivating Rabies virus. Cell, 2017 Jul 13;170(2):382-392

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