Project : Basal ganglia

Functions and dysfunctions of the basal ganglia system: motor control, motor learning and drug addiction

The striatum is the major input structure of the basal ganglia system and constitutes, with the cerebral cortex, an interconnected neural network involved in adaptive control of behaviour. The basal ganglia have a tremendous importance in human diseases since they are affected in neurodegenerative diseases leading to movement disorders as Parkinson and Huntington disease and in psychiatric diseases as drug addiction.

Our general aim is to understand the respective roles of different neuronal subpopulations of the striatum and consequently, of the different pathways of the basal ganglia system as well as their dysfunctions or differential implications related pathologies.

In this context, the specific projects are:

• Identification of respective functions of the direct and indirect pathways by specific, cell type ablation, gene inactivation or gene overexpression using Cre/loxP or TRE/tTA conditional transgenesis.
Gene profiling of striatal neuronal populations and functional characterization of differentially expressed genes.
• Roles of striatal neuronal populations and their specific genes in drug addiction.
• Differential involvement of cell-type and striatal subregions in motor control and skill learning.
• Identification of the specific roles of nitrergic and fast spiking striatal interneurons.
• Control of neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and synaptic and non-synaptic plasticity in the striatum: roles of fast spiking parvalbumin-containing interneurons and involvement of dopamine and adenosine receptors.

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