Research group Silvia Arber
Function and assembly of neuronal circuits controlling motor behavior
The central question of our research concerns the elucidation of mechanisms involved in function and assembly of neuronal circuits controlling motor behavior.
An important function of the nervous system is the integration of many coincidently occuring stimuli, ultimately leading to changes in motor behavior. Complex neuronal circuits transmit integrated information from the brain via the spinal cord to muscles, leading to muscle contractions and adjustment of movement programs.
Organization and function of neuronal circuits
Precise neuronal wiring through synaptic connections plays an important role for the function of neuronal circuits. Our research aims at the elucidation of principles at work in the organization, function and assembly of neuronal circuits involved in motor behavior.
Circuit connectivity in the spinal cord
To understand how motor circuits assemble and function, we mainly focus our research on the spinal cord, a central player in the orchestration of motor behavior. We use an array of interdisciplinary methods including high-end light microscopy, transsynaptic viruses, fluorescent marking of neuronal subpopulations, gene expression profiling, electrophysiology and behavioral assays.
Precision and malfunctioning of motor circuits
Our research reveals the importance of precise signaling interactions for the assembly and function of motor circuits. We showed that transcription factors and cell surface molecules play key roles in this process. Diseases of the nervous system frequently lead to motor behavioral deficits and spinal cord injury causes immobility. Understanding principles of motor circuit function will be essential for future interventions.