Differential Resilience to Perturbation of Circuits with Similar Performance

We are excited to announce that in collaboration with DPAG, we are hosting Professor Eve Marder, from the Biology Department and Volen Center, Brandeis University.

She will give a talk at 1.15 pm in the Large Lecture Theatre, Sherrington Building. This will be followed by a lunch with the speaker, at 2.30pm in Sherrington Library.

If you would like to attend this lunch, please sign up here: https://forms.gle/LdL85FftkdizsYte7

Due to the high demand, we will need registration for the lunch by the 18th February.

Title: Differential Resilience to Perturbation of Circuits with Similar Performance

Healthy individual animals and people are nonetheless differentially resilient to environmental challenge. We use experimental and computational methods to explore this resilience in a small nervous system from crabs. Experimental work on the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion (STG) has revealed a 2-6 fold variability in many of the parameters that are important for circuit dynamics. Theoretical work shows that similar network performance can arise from diverse underlying parameter sets. Together, these lines of evidence suggest that each individual animal, at any moment in its life-time, has found a different solution to producing “good enough” motor patterns for healthy performance in the world. This poses the question of the extent to which animals with different sets of underlying circuit parameters can respond reliably and robustly to environmental perturbations and neuromodulation. We use both experimental and computational methods to study the effects of temperature, pH, high K + concentrations, and neuromodulation on the networks of the STG from the crab, Cancer borealis. While all animals are remarkably robust and reliable to substantial perturbations, extreme perturbations produce crashes and degraded function. These crashes differ substantially across animals and in models with different underlying parameter differences. The idiosyncratic nature of the crashes provides heuristic insight into the diverse nature of individuals to extreme perturbations. Moreover, models of homeostatic regulation of intrinsic excitability give insight into the kinds of mechanisms that could give rise to the highly variable solutions to stable circuit performance. The underlying parameter differences across the animals in a population and their differences in crash behavior provide a necessary substrate for evolution.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cortex Club Presents: Pub Quiz

Looking for something fun to do this Thursday?
Come and join us for our 𝐏𝐮𝐛 𝐐𝐮𝐢𝐳 Night at St. Aldates Tavern, test your knowledge with amazing prizes to be won!! 🧠 ✏️🏆

Optical dissection of the thalamocortical circuits underlying the processing of sensory information in the mouse somatosensory system

Dr Tommaso Fellini (from the Italian Institute of Technology) will be speaking on optical dissection of the thalamocortical circuits underlying the processing of sensory information in the mouse somatosensory system. The event will take place on 11th Feb 2020 at 4 pm in the Sherrington library.

If you would like to join us for after-talk pub with the speaker, sign up at: https://forms.gle/bmf2cjm49UvZHFAT8

Sensory cortices are organized in multiple interconnected layers and contain several functionally distinct neural subnetworks. Elucidating the logic of interaction within and between cortical layers and subnetworks is essential for understanding the cellular basis of cortical function. In this seminar, I will focus on the role of specific layers in the modulation of sensory responses in the mouse somatosensory cortex. I will also present the development and application of new optical methods to monitor and bidirectionally manipulate the activity of neurons with high spatial resolution. I will discuss how these new technologies may greatly facilitate our understanding of the network mechanisms underlying the function of thalamocortical circuits.

Imaging mRNA localisation in memory-relevant neurons in the Drosophila brain

Join us on 28th January 2020 at 12pm for PIZZA and Science in the Sherrington Room. 

Abstract: Memories are encoded in Drosophila as dopamine driven changes in the efficacy of synaptic connections between Mushroom Body Kenyon Cells and Mushroom Body Output Neurons (MBONs). Evidence from flies and mammals suggests that some learning-relevant synaptic plasticity requires local translation of new proteins within specific neuronal processes. Neurons therefore have to deliver the relevant mRNAs to these neuronal compartments as a means of spatially and temporally regulating protein synthesis. We used single molecule fluorescent in situ hybridisation (smFISH) and the MS2 system to image mRNA localisation in the adult Drosophila brain, before and after learning. smFISH allowed us to visualise learning induced increases in CaMKII mRNA within the dendritic compartments of specific MBONs following aversive olfactory conditioning. We are now using the MS2 system to live-track mRNA transcripts in memory-relevant neurons of head-fixed flies, after learning. These developments enable the visualisation of molecular correlates of plasticity, and therefore extend the analysis of memory in Drosophila beyond measuring changes in odour-evoked neural activity.