Biomedical Engineering Seminars at Emory

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This event will be offered virtually. Please click here to join via Zoom.

"Linking computation and neurobiology in control of reaching"

Matthew Kaufman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
Division of the Biological Sciences
University of Chicago

The ability to make rapid, accurate movements is critical for survival and is a key function of the mammalian brain. My lab aims to understand how mammalian cortex generates motor commands, at two levels. First, we wish to identify the computations that convert a high-level representation of a motor goal into coordinated, precisely timed commands to the muscles. Using data from reaching monkeys, we demonstrate a new way of understanding the neural dynamics that perform this command generation. Second, we wish to understand how the diversity of cell types and connectivity in neural circuits supports these computations. To approach this problem, much greater biological access is required. We therefore use calcium imaging to record from large numbers of neurons in reaching mice. We show that mouse cortex reflects fine details of arm, paw and digit movements that were not previously known, in a system where we can identify or perturb specific neurons based on their genetic profile or projection target. Together, these approaches lay a path for closer ties between the theory and biology of mammalian motor control.

Faculty Host: Chethan Pandarinath, Ph.D.


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