Research in my lab is focused on understanding the mechanisms of synaptic specificity underlying neuronal circuit formation.
The accuracy with which neurons select their appropriate targets is critical for the organization and function of neuronal circuits. We explore this issue in the context of the spinal stretch reflex circuit, which is involved in sensory-motor control in the developing mouse spinal cord. It is a rather simple circuit, but involves three important components that influence motor behavior: sensory input, motor output and local circuit interneurons.
Questions of particular interest are:
Sensory Afferent Terminals on a Spinal Motor Neuron
In order to address these questions we use methodologies for visualizing synapse formation that allow us to both study their morphology and organization and to identify their precise targeting within neuronal networks.
Our long-term goal is to develop genetically based methods to specifically disrupt synapse formation and to analyze the consequences of such disruptions on the organization of neuronal circuits and the emergence of behavior.
Developmental biologist Julia Kaltschmidt studies neuronal circuits in mice and the factors that can cause the development process to go awry.