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Movements are at the center of all our behavior, and proper behavior requires accurate movements. How does the brain ensure that our movements consistently land on target in an almost infinite number of motor contexts, each requiring its own specific pattern of muscle activations? For example, when we pick up a bottle of water to take a sip, the arm displacement remains accurate whether the bottle is full or almost empty. The process that allows for this flexibility is sensorimotor adaptation and, despite decades of research, its neural mechanisms remain poorly understood.
The general aim of our group is to dissect the neural circuits underlying sensorimotor adaptation using state-of-the art techniques such as in-vivo two-photon microscopy, optogenetic manipulations and behavioral testing. We work with mice as the model system and are mainly focused on forelimb movement adaptation and proprioceptive sensory feedback. We are particularly interested in the cerebellum and neocortex as the sites of plasticity that guide adaptive behavioral changes.
Because brain diseases arise from dysfunctions of these basic neural mechanisms, understanding them at their fundamental level will lead to gaining better insights into the pathophysiology of neurological disease.