Engineering a photoinducible technology to study neural network plasticity

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The project aims to engineer and characterize a novel photoinducible technology in the mouse brain.


Context. During adult life, brain circuits undergo profound reorganizations over a surprising large scale. These observations led to the emergence of the brain rewiring concept1-3. This theory postulates that dynamic rearrangement of long-range circuits connecting brain structures allow to learn new skills and to face environmental changes. However, current approaches prevent brain rewiring studies from establishing causality between structural reorganization and individual learning capacities. To overcome this limitation, we have successfully developed an innovative technology termed RAIL (Remodeling of Axon Induced by Light) to connect and disconnect axon projections on-demand (see figure).

Hypothesis. Despite major advances in the understanding of brain functions and plasticity, promoting the reconnection of long-range axonal projections have remained elusive because of technological limitations. We have shown that RAIL has the potential to bridge this gap in vitro. It is time to test the feasibility of this technology in vivo.

Objectives. The goal of the present project is to set the cellular bases of the photoinducible system in vivo. The candidate will test test and adjust the use of RAIL in adult mouse basal ganglia circuit, a region controling motor behaviors.

Our methodology combines live microscopy in brain-on-a-chip devices, mouse surgeries and viral injections, in vivo neural reconstruction, and motor behavior analyses in mice.

Relevant papers include Virlogeux et al. Cell Reports 2018, Moutaux et al. Sci Reports 2018, Moutaux et al. Lab Chip 2018, Cazorla et al. Mov Dis 2015, Cazorla et al. Neuron 2014.

Desired profile

We are looking for strongly motivated student with a background in neuroscience or neuroengineering, and with a fair understanding of neural plasticity. Previous experience with mouse handling, surgeries, microscopy or cell biology would be a plus but is not mandatory.

The candidate will be closely supervised by the PI and a graduate student, in a young and dynamic team at INT.

Host institution

The Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (INT) is an academic research institute located downtown Marseille on the medical campus of la Timone at Aix-Marseille Univ. Since 2022, Maxim Cazorla is director of the NeuroTechnology Center. This center, dedicated to technological innovation for Neuroscience, benefits from the total renovation of 400 m2 of experimental laboratories and technical platforms (including rodent and primate facility, microelectronics fabrication, imaging and photonics facility, virus production platform, and a microfluidic platform). The NeuroTech Center currently federates over 10 research teams and technical facilities specialized in neuroscience, bioengineering, microelectronics, optics, biomechanics, computation and photonics.

The current project will be conducted at the NeuroTech Center, and the candidate will closely interact with this community.

More details can be found here at

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