Circuits for sensory-motor transformation
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The major role of the brain is to interpret information from its surroundings in order to generate goal-directed and coherent movement. The nervous system has several different sensory modalities at its disposal, each informing about different aspects of the environment. How do neural circuits in the nervous system interpret all of this sensory information in order to generate appropriate motor commands? To address this, our lab is focused on the vestibular system, a sensory system that provides information about rotation and acceleration of the head and is critical for our ability to move, balance and navigate. The vestibular system presents us with a unique experimental opportunity where we have complete control over sensory information entering the nervous system, combined with the ability to precisely measure the system’s output, or motor commands. We investigate the brainstem and spinal circuits that are involved in vestibulo-motor behaviours with the belief that information gained from these circuits will yield important insights into how the brain processes sensory information more generally.
The brain is constantly bombarded with information from different modalities of sensory organs. Some of this sensory information will be more accurate and important than others, but this will vary depending on the environmental context that you find yourself in. But how does the brain select for a particular stream of sensory information at any given moment? How do we ignore imprecise sensory information in favour of attending to a modality that maybe more accurate? And how do we distinguish between our own effects on our sensory systems and those coming from the external environment?
To begin to answer some of these questions we study how neural circuits in the brainstem and spinal cord process vestibular sensory information in order to generate motor behaviours. We employ a series of approaches ranging from molecular-genetic targeting of neuronal subtypes, viral tracing, optogenetics, electrophysiology, motor behavioural assays and EMG recordings. We work with mice because of their experimental and genetic tractability, as well as well as their impressive repertoire of complex motor behaviours.
Central to our goal of understanding vestibular-motor behaviour is the availability of tools for the targeting, manipulation and mapping of neural circuits. Our lab therefore also develops new viral technologies that allow us to map the connections between neurons as well as monitor and manipulate their activity. It is our hope that the technology developed in our lab will aid both in our goal of understanding sensory-motor circuits, as well as being valuable to the wider neuroscience community.
- Group Members
- Selected Publications
- Reardon, TR*, Murray AJ*, Turi GF, Wirblich C, Croce KR, Schnell MJ, Jessell TM, Losonczy A (2016) Rabies Virus CVS-N2cΔG Strain Enhances Retrograde Synaptic Transfer and Neuronal Viability. Neuron 89: 711-724. *Co-first author
- Murray AJ, Ansell L, Woloszynowska-Fraser M, Cole KLH, Foggetti A, Crouch B, Riedel G, Wulff P. (2015) Parvalbumin-positive interneurons of the prefrontal cortex support working memory and cognitive flexibility. Scientific Reports 5: 16778.
- Murray AJ and Wulff P (2015) Remote control of neural activity using chemical genetics. Neuromethods. Vol. 92.
- Mathews MA, Murray AJ, Wijesinghe R, Cullen K, Tung VW, and Camp AJ. (2015) Efferent Vestibular Neurons Show Homogenous Discharge Output but Heterogeneous Synaptic Input Profile In Vitro. PLoS One. 10: e0139548.
- Zampieri N, Jessell TM and Murray AJ (2014) Mapping sensory circuits by anterograde transsynaptic transfer of recombinant rabies virus. Neuron. 81: 766-778.
- Murray AJ, Sauer JF, Riedel G, McClure C, Ansel L, Cheyne L, Bartos M, Wisden W and Wulff P (2011) Parvalbumin-positive hippocampal interneurons are required for spatial working but not reference memory. Nature Neuroscience. 14: 297 – 299.
- McClure C, Cole KL, Wulff P, Klugmann M and Murray AJ (2011) Production and tittering of recombinant adeno-associated virus. Journal of Visualized Experiments. 57: e3348.
- Murray AJ, Tucker SJ and Shewan DA (2009) cAMP-dependent axon guidance is distinctly regulated by Epac and protein kinase A. The Journal of Neuroscience. 29: 15434-15444.
- Murray AJ*, Peace AG and Shewan DA (2009) cGMP promotes neurite outgrowth and growth cone turning and improves axon regeneration on spinal cord tissue in combination with cAMP. Brain Research. 1294: 12-21.
- Murray AJ and Shewan DA (2008) Epac mediates cAMP-dependent axon growth, guidance, and regeneration. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 38: 578-588.