The role of dichotomous properties of D1 and D2 medium spiny neurons for the dynamics and function of striatum
The striatum is the main input station of the basal ganglia and is strongly associated with motor and cognitive functions. It is a recurrently connected network of GABAergic medium spiny neurons (MSNs), which receive strong feedforward inhibition from the fast spiking interneurons and massive excitatory afferents from various regions of the neocortex via the cortico-striatal projection neurons. Interestingly, neighboring MSNs do not share their presynaptic inputs. Recently, we have shown that this special structure of cortico-striatal projections provides optimal conditions for the representation of cortical inputs in the striatum.
The MSN population in the striatum can be segregated into two types: D1 type MSNs project to the globus palidus external (indirect path) and D2 MSNs project to the globus palidus internal (direct path). Recent experiments have revealed a great degree of differences between D1 and D2 MSNs in terms of their morphology, integration properties, synaptic dynamics and connectivity.
This project requires one to understand the consequences of these different neuronal, synaptic, and network properties of the two types of MSNs for the striatal activity dynamics and representation of cortical inputs. To address this question we will use a combined experimental and theoretical approach. Relevant experiments will be conducted in the lab of Prof. Gilad Silberberg (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden). Analysis of experimental data and development of network models will be done in the lab of Dr. Arvind Kumar and Prof. Ad Aertsen (Bernstein Center Freiburg).
Looking for candidates with a strong background in Physics or Electrical Engineering and a genuine interest in Neuroscience, who are interested in interdisciplinary research and are willing to learn and perform neurophysiology in animal experiments.