Columbia University in the City of New York

Jun 11, 20213:30 pm

Zuckerman Institute Postdoctoral Seminar: June

Featuring Eric Trautmann (Churchland, Shadlen and Wolpert labs) and Sumaira Zamurrad (Mann lab)

June 11th, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm at Online

Eric Trautmann (Churchland, Shadlen and Wolpert Labs)
The blessings of dimensionality: Isolation of learned skills in motor cortex in a context-switching task.

The motor cortex anatomically sits at the “last stop” before the periphery, as the brain transforms a thought to move into a movement command. As such, neural dynamics in M1 are thought to be uniquely yoked to the behaviors they drive. Here, we challenge this assumption using a behavioral task involving a context-dependent sensorimotor gain in rhesus monkeys. We recorded large populations of neurons in the motor cortex using a primate-optimized version of Neuropixels. Surprisingly, when the subject is presented with different contexts, requiring different feedback control policies, neural dynamics in the motor cortex robustly reflect both task context and output. Collectively, these results suggest that the motor cortex can use a high-dimensional state space to isolate neural patterns associated with distinct motoric skills.

Sumaira Zamurrad (Mann Lab)
Mapping the neural circuitry underlying precise walking kinematics in Drosophila.

Walking is a conserved behavior essential to an animal’s survival in a dynamic environment. Descending Neurons (DNs) can elicit precise motor behaviors yet the downstream circuitry that elicits this specific walking behavior remains unmapped. In this talk, I will talk about how we are using existing morphological and preliminary behavior data in Drosophila to target those DNs that control the leg neuropils in the Drosophila VNC to further map their downstream targets. I will discuss our progress towards mapping the postsynaptic targets of genetically accessible DNs using a neuronal trans-labeling tool called TransTango. These downstream targets can then be targeted using split gal4 lines identified using MIP MASK search algorithms developed by Janelia and tested in our behavior assays designed to analyze specific walking parameters. I will show how we have used this scheme to identify high scoring gen1 Gal4 lines for many of the DNs screened with TransTango and use them to optogenetically target downstream circuitry to testing their effect on walking behavior using the Fly arena, Flywalker and eventually on a Fly-on-ball setup. This will give us information about the precise walking parameters that these downstream neurons regulate in the walking circuit such as walking velocity, angular velocity, turning and bout analysis. These studies will help us map the components of neural circuits that control precise walking kinematics and help us link neural circuitry to walking behavior outputs.

Connect with us