NACS Seminar: An aquatic perspective on vertebrate sensorimotor processing

Friday, November 18, 2022
10:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
1103 Bioscience Research Building

Speaker: Tod Thiele (University of Toronto) 

Title: "An aquatic perspective on vertebrate sensorimotor processing"

Abstract: My lab is interested in understanding how neural circuits give rise to behavior using the larval zebrafish as a model system. The study of neural circuits in zebrafish is facilitated by a unique combination of experimental approaches, notably the ability to optically monitor and manipulate activity throughout the brain with cellular resolution. Given the strong conservation of brain organization across vertebrates, discoveries made in zebrafish can also provide fundamental insights into the operation of similar circuits in other vertebrate species. In my talk, I will discuss our efforts to identify and functionally characterize circuits in larval fish that are homologous to the mammalian striatum. The striatum is the main input structure of the basal ganglia and plays a central role in the selection of actions. Our anatomical studies identified two neuronal populations in the subpallium of 7-day old fish that share molecular markers with direct and indirect pathway neurons identified in mammals that promote or inhibit movement, respectively. We are currently focused on functionally characterizing these neuronal populations using calcium imaging and activity perturbations. I will also touch upon our investigation of the periaqueductal gray in zebrafish. In other species, this brain region has been shown to regulate behavioural responses to threatening stimuli as well as the processing of pain. Finally, I will present results from a highly collaborative neuroethological project focused on the processing of optic flow in an African cichlid and zebrafish. 

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