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2 Janelia Publications

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    01/03/20 | The neuropeptide Drosulfakinin regulates social isolation-induced aggression in Drosophila.
    Agrawal P, Kao D, Chung P, Looger LL
    Journal of Experimental Biology. 2020 Jan 03;223(2):. doi: 10.1242/jeb.207407

    Social isolation strongly modulates behavior across the animal kingdom. We utilized the fruit fly to study social isolation-driven changes in animal behavior and gene expression in the brain. RNA-seq identified several head-expressed genes strongly responding to social isolation or enrichment. Of particular interest, social isolation downregulated expression of the gene encoding the neuropeptide (), the homologue of vertebrate cholecystokinin (CCK), which is critical for many mammalian social behaviors. knockdown significantly increased social isolation-induced aggression. Genetic activation or silencing of neurons each similarly increased isolation-driven aggression. Our results suggest a U-shaped dependence of social isolation-induced aggressive behavior on signaling, similar to the actions of many neuromodulators in other contexts.

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    10/31/18 | Distinct descending motor cortex pathways and their roles in movement.
    Economo MN, Viswanathan S, Tasic B, Bas E, Winnubst J, Menon V, Graybuck LT, Nguyen TN, Smith KA, Yao Z, Wang L, Gerfen CR, Chandrashekar J, Zeng H, Looger LL, Svoboda K
    Nature. 2018 Nov;563(7729):79-84. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0642-9

    Activity in the motor cortex predicts movements, seconds before they are initiated. This preparatory activity has been observed across cortical layers, including in descending pyramidal tract neurons in layer 5. A key question is how preparatory activity is maintained without causing movement, and is ultimately converted to a motor command to trigger appropriate movements. Here, using single-cell transcriptional profiling and axonal reconstructions, we identify two types of pyramidal tract neuron. Both types project to several targets in the basal ganglia and brainstem. One type projects to thalamic regions that connect back to motor cortex; populations of these neurons produced early preparatory activity that persisted until the movement was initiated. The second type projects to motor centres in the medulla and mainly produced late preparatory activity and motor commands. These results indicate that two types of motor cortex output neurons have specialized roles in motor control.

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