Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute Seminar Series Presents
Megan R. Carey, PhD
Megan Carey is a Group Leader in the Neuroscience Program at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal
Host: Richard Roth (Ding Lab)
Nearly all of our actions require us to precisely coordinate the movement of multiple body parts in space and time. The cerebellum is critical for motor coordination and learning, but how cerebellar outputs enable complex, coordinated movement is still poorly understood. In this talk I will describe our efforts to understand cerebellar circuit contributions to coordinated locomotion. Our lab has taken a behavior-centric approach to this problem, developing an automated, markerless 3D tracking system (LocoMouse) to establish a quantitative framework for mouse locomotion (Machado et al., eLife 2015, 2020). Analyzing the locomotor behavior of visibly ataxic mice with cerebellar defects has revealed specific, cerebellum-dependent features of locomotor coordination that suggest that cerebellar ataxia results from an inability to predict the consequences of movements across the body. We are further investigating this idea by studying neural circuit mechanisms of locomotor learning, in which mice adapt their locomotor patterns to achieve a more symmetrical gait while walking on a split-belt treadmill (Darmohray et al., Neuron 2019). Both of these approaches have provided strong behavioral evidence for a particularly important role for the cerebellum in the control of interlimb coordination. Finally, I will present recent electrophysiological recordings from Purkinje cells in locomoting mice, which are beginning to provide insights into how cerebellar circuits ensure accurate and coordinated complex, whole-body behaviors.