Colloquium – Alanna Watt – Non-random spatial organization of cerebellar cortical output synapses
Apr 6, 2023
2:30PM to 4:00PM
Date(s) - 06/04/2023
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Deda Gillespie is hosing Alanna, so please reach out to her if you want to speak with the Alanna.
Coffee and cookies at 2:00 in the lobby
Talk at 2:30 in PC 155.
Bio: Alanna Watt completed her PhD at Brandeis University, MA, USA in the Turrigiano lab studying homeostatic synaptic plasticity using electrophysiological approaches. She then moved to UCL in London, UK where she studied cerebellar development in the lab of Michael Häusser, using electrophysiology combined with two-photon imaging. She then returned to Canada and started her own lab at McGill in 2011.The Watt lab focuses on the organization and development of the cerebellum, and how this structure is altered in animal models of ataxia.
Abstract: Circuits in the brain are built from connections between neurons, where the spatial organization and functional properties of these connections determines circuit function. In the cerebellum, Purkinje cells transmit information to neurons in the cerebellar nuclei, but how Purkinje cell – nuclear neuron connections are organized remains unclear. Professor Watt will describe recent experiments that explored the connections between Purkinje cells and cerebellar nuclear neurons using whole-cell electrophysiology and op to genetics to produce spatial connectivity maps of cerebellar cortical output. Her lab observed non-random connectivity between Purkinje cells and their target neurons, with inputs to cerebellar nuclear neurons clustering along cerebellar transverse zones. While many nuclear neurons received inputs from a single zone, a number of different connectivity motifs were observed. Neurons receiving inputs from all four zones were more common than predicted by a random model and showed topographic organization in the nucleus. Finally, she reports that small Purkinje cell inputs were sufficient to pause the output of nuclear neurons, suggesting that widespread Purkinje cell synchrony may not be necessary to influence cerebella rout put. These findings reveal cerebellar nuclear neurons as an important locus of multimodal integration in the cerebellum.