Understanding the role of proprioception in locomotion: targeting sensory neurons with optogenetics


Proprioceptive feedback is essential for locomotion but is difficult to investigate without injuring the sensory neurons. Using AAV vectors we will express the neural inhibitor halorhodopsin (activated by yellow light) from subset specific promoters to investigate the relative roles of the different components of the proprioceptive system: muscle spindles, Golgi tendon organs and cutaneous sensation. This project combines cutting edge optogenetic techniques to investigate locomotor physiology and the results will be used to refine a mathematical model of locomotion. Such information will contribute to the generation of bio-inspired robots and improved prosthetic systems for people with spinal or limb injuries.


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Genes, development and STEM approaches to biology