Most disorders or injuries affecting the nervous system or its development result in motor impairments, which challenge activities of daily living and can be life-threatening. A number of teams at NeuroPSI are thus interested in deciphering the neural mechanisms and circuits for selecting and controlling individual movements and sequences of movements in health, their alteration in the diseased or post-traumatic brain, and finally their restoration.
Specifically, what are the neural circuit motifs involved? How are neuronal motor circuits organized within the brain and the spinal cord? What are the cerebral mechanisms that underlie the learning of new motor skills? How are different sensory modalities integrated and encoded within the brain to continuously adapt and optimize motor actions? How are motor tracts reorganized following spinal-cord injury? How can motor commands be decoded to provide efficient artificial sensory feedback? What are the cellular dysfunctions that cause motor abnormalities in neurodevelopmental disorders?
These questions are addressed in various experimental models including Drosophila larvae and rodents. Our experimental approaches include functional brain imaging, electrophysiology, kinematic analysis, optogenetic manipulations, experimental lesions, and brain-machine interfaces. Our research also benefits from the array of motor tests available within our PCI-CO behavioural analysis platform.