Using the zebrafish larva as the experimental model and a multidisciplinary approach, including twophoton calcium imaging to monitor activity of neural networks, motor behaviours, genetic engineering techniques to label, monitor and manipulate activity of specific neurons or entire circuits and mathematical methods for data analysis, we are studying the following subjects:
1) Multimodal sensory perception:
The optic tectum has emerged as a tractable visuomotor transformer, in which anatomical and functional studies can allow a better understanding of how behavior is controlled by neuronal circuits. We are examining the formation and function of the visual system in zebrafish larvae using in vivo time-lapse microscopy and state-of-the-art “connectomic” and “optogenetic” approaches to monitor and perturb neuronal activity. We apply complementary cellular and molecular analyses to dissect this circuit and identify the neuronal substrate of visual behaviors.
Information processing in the brain and retina relies on extraordinarily complex and precisely organized assemblies of neuronal and glial cells. The development of these networks raises two great questions: how are their cellular components generated in adequate number and types? How do these cells distribute in nervous tissue and interconnect together? Our group develops and applies new genetic engineering and imaging approaches to study these questions with cellular precision in intact neural tissue.