Team “Probing dynamic sensory-motor integration in spinal circuits”
Claire Wyart did her PhD between 2000 and 2003 in Strasbourg University in Biophysics working on small networks of controlled architecture. She performed her postdoc in UC Berkeley from 2005-2010, developing optogenetics in vivo in the zebrafish larva to probe the circuits underlying behavior in experimental models. Since 2011, she has lauched her team in the ICM with the label ATIP/Avenir, the ENP Chair of Excellence and the Emergence prize from the City of Paris.
Claire Wyart’s team is interested in understanding how specific circuits are recruited in the spinal cord to produce complex motor outputs. Locomotion depends on the activity of spinal circuits termed Central Pattern Generators (CPGs) which have been characterized by Sten Grillner and others. Physiological, pharmacological and anatomical data have been used to construct schemes of connectivity for groups of excitatory and inhibitory interneurons and to predict how they generate oscillations in vitro. However, such an approach does not reveal whether firing in a given neuronal subgroup is necessary and sufficient to generate a movement. The team identifies the function of specific spinal cells by remotely manipulating and recording neuronal activity while monitoring behavior in a small transparent animal, the zebrafish larva. Claire Wyart developed sophisticated methods to optically control neuronal activity in vivo, termed optogenetics.