Microtechnologies for high-content, high-throughput neuroscience Dirk Albrecht,PhD_WPI

Science / Technology - Lecture/Discussion

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
4:00 PM-5:00 PM

Gateway Park
GP 1002


Quantitative measurement of behavior in model organisms has been a useful tool for understanding the genetic and molecular regulators of nervous system activity, leading to insights into human neurological disease. How do chemical and electrical signals course through vast brain circuits to control our behavior? The nematode C. elegans is a powerful model system to address these questions in a compact, genetically-tractable nervous system. The organisms small size, rapid growth, and neurochemical similarity to humans make it ideal for high-throughput and automated experimental approaches that are required to efficiently study complex brain circuits.

We now have tools to analyze a fully-functional, living brain in vivo, with the ability to control circuit inputs (stimuli), record circuit outputs (behaviors), probe signals at individual nodes (neurons), and modify circuit connections. To correlate stimulated neural and behavioral responses, we developed a microfluidic platform for optical recording of neural activity in freely-behaving worms responding to precise spatiotemporal patterns of chemical stimuli. In this seminar, we will discuss how these quantitative tools, coupled with genetic manipulation of neuronal circuitry, has enabled the characterization of new locomotory behaviors, circuit computations, and chemical pathways. Specific examples will be presented regarding rapid neuropeptide signaling, behavioral variability, and adaptation over timescales ranging from seconds to hours. We will then discuss future applications for genetic and drug screening toward understanding the molecular basis of neural and behavioral responses in healthy and dysfunctional circuits.

Suggested Audiences: College, Adult

E-mail: bme-web@wpi.edu

Last Modified: April 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM

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