<strong>Synaptic circuit organization in mouse motor-frontal cortex</strong>
Local synaptic circuits in motor-frontal cortex engage in neural operations underlying many aspects of cognition and behavior – motor control, executive functions, working memory, and more – yet circuit organization at the synaptic, cellular, and molecular levels remains poorly understood in this agranular cortex. What is the functional organization of these synaptic pathways? What cellular and circuit-level operations do neurons in these perform? How do these local circuits communicate with each other and how do they interact with subcortical systems in the basal ganglia and thalamus? The focus of our laboratory is to apply multiple tools of quantitative synaptic circuit analysis to elucidate the functional ‘wiring diagrams’ of neocortical neurons in motor-frontal cortex. We use laser scanning photostimulation (LSPS) microscopy, based on glutamate uncaging and channelrhodopsin-2 excitation, for rapid functional mapping of synaptic pathways onto single neurons in brain slices of motor-frontal cortex. We are also applying a variety of circuit analysis tools in efforts to identify circuit-level mechanisms in mouse models of disease, including autism, Rett syndrome, epilepsy, and motor neuron diseases.