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How the brain comes to balance: Development of postural stability and its neural architecture in larval zebrafish.
Maintaining posture is a vital challenge for all freely-moving organisms. As animals grow, their relationship to destabilizing physical forces changes. How does the nervous system deal with this ongoing challenge? Vertebrates use highly conserved vestibular reflexes to stabilize the body. We established the larval zebrafish as a new model system to understand the development of the vestibular reflexes responsible for balance. In this talk, I will begin with the biophysical challenges facing baby fish as they learn to swim. I’ll briefly review published work by David Ehrlich, Ph.D., establishing a fundamental relationship between postural stability and locomotion. The bulk of the talk will highlight unpublished work by Kyla Hamling. She discovered that a small (~50) population of molecularly-defined brainstem neurons called vestibulo-spinal cells act as a nexus for postural development. Her loss-of-function experiments show that these neurons contribute more to postural stability as animals grow older. I’ll end with brief highlights from her ongoing work examining tilt-evoked responses of these neurons using 2-photon imaging and the consequences of downstream activity in the spinal cord using single-objective light-sheet (SCAPE) microscopy.

Jul 2, 2020 02:00 PM in Lisbon

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