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Sensory Integration in the Striatal Microcircuit (SENSTRIATUM)
Start date: Feb 1, 2012, End date: Jan 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Motor behaviour requires the meaningful integration of a multitude of sensory information. The basal ganglia are essential for such sensory-motor processing and underlie motor planning, performance, and learning. The striatum is the input layer of the basal ganglia, acting as a “hub” that receives synaptic inputs from different brain regions, interacting primarily with the GABAergic striatal microcircuit. Sensory excitatory inputs to striatum arise from the thalamus and neocortex, targeting striatal projection neurons and interneurons.Previous work in basal ganglia focused mainly on their role in motor and reward related functions, but the functional role of striatum in sensory processing is largely unknown. In this study I will elucidate the principles of sensory processing performed at the striatal microcircuit. In particular, I aim to answer these fundamental questions:- How do striatal neurons integrate sensory input? How is sensory input from different sensory modalities integrated in the striatum? How are ipsi- and contralateral inputs integrated?- What are the respective roles of cortical and thalamic sensory inputs in striatal function?- How is the intra-striatal microcircuitry organized to support sensory integration?To address these questions I will use a combination of electrophysiological, optical, and anatomical methods, including:- In vivo whole-cell recordings from striatal neurons during visual and tactile stimulation.- Multi-neuron whole-cell recordings in corticostriatal and thalamostriatal slices.- Optical manipulation of identified neuronal subpopulations in slice and in vivo.The proposed study will provide a new understanding of sensory processing at the level of basal ganglia and may provide insights regarding basal ganglia dysfunction."

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