1.5 million euros awarded to Champalimaud Foundation researcher to study how neural circuits coordinate locomotion
Megan Carey, principal investigator at the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, receives a Starting Grant of about 1.5 million euros, from the European Research Council (ERC), to study the neural circuits that coordinate locomotion in mice, over the next 5 years.
We have a seemingly effortless ability to generate coordinated movements. But in order to engage in complex activities like gymnastics, riding a bike, or even walking down the street while texting, different parts of the body need to work together.
The cerebellum is an area of the brain that is critical for coordinating movement. When the cells in this brain area are damaged, patients exhibit gait ataxia, or uncoordinated walking. But how is neural activity within cerebellar circuits orchestrated to coordinate locomotion?
“In this project we will combine computer vision, quantitative behavioural analysis, and the measurement and manipulation of neural activity. We believe that this interdisciplinary approach will allow us to elucidate mechanisms through which the cerebellum contributes to locomotion,” says Dr. Carey.
For Dr. Carey, “This project has the potential to improve our fundamental understanding of the function of neural circuits as the basis of behaviour. It also has possible applications in robotics, and treatments for patients suffering, for example from cerebellar ataxia.”
The grant, funded by the ERC, will allow the hiring of more people for the Neural Circuits and Behaviour Laboratory, and also the purchase of equipment for measuring and manipulating neural activity in mice.