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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Oct;21(5):693-700. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2011.06.010. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

New methods for localizing and manipulating neuronal dynamics in behaving animals.

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  • 1McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. fee@MIT.EDU


Where are the 'prime movers' that control behavior? Which circuits in the brain control the order in which individual motor gestures of a learned behavior are generated, and the speed at which they progress? Here we describe two techniques recently applied to localizing and characterizing the circuitry underlying the generation of vocal sequences in the songbird. The first utilizes small, localized, temperature changes in the brain to perturb the speed of neural dynamics. The second utilizes intracellular manipulation of membrane potential in the freely behaving animal to perturb the dynamics within a single neuron. Both of these techniques are broadly applicable in behaving animals to test hypotheses about the biophysical and circuit dynamics that allow neural circuits to march from one state to the next.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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