Optogenetic investigation of interval timing in mice

In the past year, we have initiated a parallel set of timing studies in mice in order to take advantage the increased molecular power of the mouse relative to the rat. We have trained mice on a classic temporal reproduction task, called the peak interval task, and are currently training mice on the SFI task mentioned above. By combining viruses dependent on CRE recombinase activity for expression of transgenes, with mouse lines expressing CRE in specific basal ganglia cell types, we plan to express light sensitive channels and pumps in targeted locations within the basal ganglia circuit. Stimulating these proteins with light during experiments will provide us with two potentially powerful pieces of data. First, we will be able to ask what type of cell we are recording from in vivo much more easily and in higher volume than was available with older techniques. Second, we can test hypotheses about the role of activity in specific populations of neurons for timing behavior.

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