Court Hull, Ph.D., PI
We study the organization and physiology of neural circuits in the brain involved with coordinating body movements. These studies utilize optical and electrical recordings from mice, both in vitro andin vivo, in order to understand how these circuits operate during motor behaviors.
Cerebellar Circuits and Behavior
Throughout the brain, interconnected groups of neurons are organized into repeated primary elements, or circuits, that serve as the basis for processing information. By establishing and transforming spatio-temporal patterns of neural activity, these circuits underlie the brain’s ability to generate perceptions and guide behaviors. We study the functional dynamics of neural circuits as a means to discover general rules and organizing principles that govern how the brain processes information.
Our model system for investigating neural circuits is the rodent cerebellar cortex. This structure is ideal for studying neural circuits because the cerebellar anatomy is among the best characterized in the central nervous system, and cerebellar processing is involved in many simple motor behaviors. To understand the organization and function of cerebellar circuits, we are focussed on two broad questions:
• What are the cellular and synaptic mechanisms that govern neural
processing in the cerebellar cortex?
• How do cerebellar circuits enable normal motor coordination
and other cerebellar-dependent behaviors?
To address these questions, we utilize a wide range of techniques, both in vitro and in vivo. Specifically, we use electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging, behavior, optogenetics and anatomical techniques. These approaches allow us to reveal the circuit dynamics that underlie cerebellar-dependent processing and behaviors.
Inhibitory circuit between a cerebellar basket cell and Purkinje cell. 2-photon image of a recorded cell pair in voltage-clamp configuration showing that the basket cell provides GABAergic input to the somatic compartment of Purkinje cells.