We are interested in how the brain changes with experience to alter behaviour – or how circuits in the brain learn and remember.
We work with larval zebrafish, which are a very small and transparent model vertebrate. Despite being less than a week old, zebrafish larvae can be trained to form long-term memories. We have developed paradigms to train larvae to ignore repeated stimuli. This simple form of learning is known as habituation, and offers a tractable paradigm to study the general phenomenon of learning and memory. Despite the apparent triviality of habituation (simply learning to ignore a given stimulus), how the brain actually accomplishes this selective filtration of specific stimuli is still largely mysterious. Indeed, we have shown that habituation is a complex phenomenon that involves multiple independent plasticity events that each tune individual components of behaviour. We hope to gain insights into this process at the molecular, cellular and circuit levels.
To study the mechanisms of habituation we exploit the advantages of the larval zebrafish, including:
1) Optical transparency for imaging neuronal activity in intact and behaving animals. This allows us to measure how neurons and circuits adapt in real-time during habituation.
2) The small size of the brain allows for whole-brain imaging on standard microscopes, allowing us to routinely quantify neural activity and anatomy in the whole-circuit context (seewww.zbra.in).
3) High-throughput quantitative behavioural analyses. This gives us precise measures of the outputs of plasticity at the behavioural level.
4) Amenability to genetic and transgenic manipulation. This allows us to study the role of specific genes and pathways in plasticity processes.
UCBL – CNRS UMR 5310 – INSERM U1217
Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie
3ème étage – Couloir CD
8 avenue Rockefeller