A fundamental question in neuroscience regards the mechanisms used during development to wire the nervous system. Just by peeking at the anatomy of the nervous system it is evident that neuronal subtypes are assigned highly stereotyped positions, where neurons grouped in the same structure not only share positional coordinates but typically receive connections from similar inputs and send projections to common targets. Precise spatial organization appears to represent a major strategy to simplify the problem of connectivity.
We are interested in understanding the developmental mechanisms that control assembly and function of neural circuits. In particular we focus on the role of neuronal positioning. By looking at the anatomy of the nervous system it is evident that different neuronal subtypes are assigned highly stereotyped positions that are conserved among individuals. Neurons grouped together not only share positional coordinates but typically receive common neural inputs and send projections to similar targets. Thus, precise spatial organization of neurons appears to represent a major strategy to simplify the problem of wiring the nervous system. However, the molecular mechanisms controlling neuronal positioning and its contribution to the assembly of neural circuits are not fully understood. To address these problems we use a combination of molecular, genetic, and anatomical tracing techniques to study development of motor circuits in the mouse spinal cord.
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