Research projects

The overall aim of the project is to advance current knowledge of how specific populations of inhibitory interneurons help govern functional neuronal circuits and their impact on behavior. We suggest to test our hypothesis that interneurons in three selected neuronal circuits mediate disinhibition to control principal cell activity.

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Schematic outline demonstrating the similarity of connections between Dmrt3, Renshaw cells (red) and motor neurons (blue) with VIP interneurons, OLM/Martinotti cells (red) and pyramidal cells (blue.

In our efforts to understand brain function, considerable focus in systems neuroscience is to identify the neuronal substrates of behavior. One challenge is to casually link the activity of defined neuronal populations to the output of a given circuitry and extending this to mechanisms as well as to behavioral output. We propose to investigate neuronal circuitry and in particular, how distinct inhibitory interneuron populations contribute to nervous system function and behavior. We will examine a set of interneurons with regard to how they are controlled mechanistically with a focus on disinhibition properties. We will in parallel examine their role in the specific circuit in which they reside and will investigate the functional role of OLMα2 cells in hippocampal circuits of learning, Martinotti cells in cortical circuits for motor learning and the functional roles of Dmrt3 cells and Renshaw cells in spinal motor circuits.