Concept and Objectives.
Adaptive behavior requires selecting the right actions in the right context and executing them at the appropriate speed according to internal (e.g., motivation) and external (e.g., task difficulty) constraints. Our team aims to understand the neural mechanisms contributing to adaptive decision-making and motor control, with a focus on the contribution of the cortico-striatal axis. On the one hand, the dorsal striatum (dS) is often considered the locus of action selection and a key region for learning procedural skills through long-term plasticity of its cortico-striatal connections. On the other hand, many functional studies have suggested a role of the dS in controlling the speed of decision-making and movements based on a cost/benefit analysis. We combine behavioral and theoretical approaches with multi-scale interrogations of neuronal processes to reveal a unified understanding of the « computation » operated by the cortico-striatal axis during behavior. Our long-term ambition is to understand better the behavioral and neuronal impairments that might cause prevalent brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or impulse control disorders.
Depending on the length of the rotation and students’ interests in terms of subjects and techniques, various projects are available.
In terms of scientific questions, here at three lines of research ongoing in the team:
1-Role of Dorsal Striatum and its dopaminergic modulation in the exploration/exploitation and effort/time trade-offs during foraging.
2-Neuronal engrams for the encoding and long-term storage of motor skills.
3-Role of cortico-striatal plasticity in automatized vs flexible actions.
In terms of techniques, students will have the possibility to be introduced to ex-vivo electrophysiological techniques (patch-clamp coupled to optogenetic stimulation or laser-induced uncaging of glutamate), Ca+ imaging in vivo and ex-vivo, and the study of animal behavior (foraging or motor tasks) combined with perturbation of neuronal activity (classical lesions or circuit-specific chemo- and optogenetics).
Master students 2 (6 months internship) or
Master student 1 (2 months internship)