From the two-color high-speed imaging of the calcium activity of individual neurons and muscular cells in regenerating hydra (Yuste’s lab), the project of the recruited post-doc will be to develop a robust methodology to track the calcium activity of individual neurons in re-aggregating animals. Indeed, the motion and deformation of the regenerating animal, together with the intermittent activity, and therefore detectability with calcium sensors, of neurons call for the development of innovative tracking strategy. Another challenge will be the characterization of the emergence of functional modules in the neuronal population from the monitoring of the calcium activity of individual neurons. To relate these emergent properties with the onset of coordinated muscle activity, we will use statistical models and test our predictions with optogenetic perturbation of emergent neuronal ensembles (Yuste’s lab).
These developments will provide a pioneer experimental and analytical framework to monitor the real-time emergence of functional modules in the uniquely plastic nervous system of Hydra, and the onset of coordinated muscle activity and behavior. This could reveal some of the basic principles of the self-assembly of neural circuit dynamics underlying behaviors throughout the animal kingdom.
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