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URPP Adaptive Brain Circuits in Development and Learning (AdaBD)

A 3D mesoscale atlas of intrathalamic inhibitory interneurons in the human brain

Research project

To understand the structure and function of the human brain, it is important to be able to create maps. This project focuses on the creation of a new open-source digital 3D atlas that characterizes the distribution of intrathalamic inhibitory interneurons (ITINs) in human brain tissue. These cells are sparsely distributed in the thalamus and their role is not well understood. We will focus on the thalamus, because it is crucial for control of sensory information flow to the cortex and for sensorimotor integration and learning. Thalamus development is impaired after premature birth and perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.

We will combine high resolution imaging in 3D with mesoSPIM and MRI. MRI will provide a 3D reference space, while high-resolution mesoSPIM imaging will reveal the 3D distribution of the ITINs in the human brain. As a first step, we are developing microscopy techniques, improving tissue processing protocols, and optimizing software algorithms for quantitative analysis. This will extend the capacities of the mesoSPIM platform, bridge spatial scales and open up new avenues for research on the human brain.

The methods developed in this project will first be applied to typical human brain tissue, but may then be tested on brains with a known developmental condition, or in animal models of developmental disorders. In practice, such an atlas will be useful for example to localize fMRI responses or study structure-function links in developmental disorders or ischemic stroke with thalamic lesions.

Project groups

Principal investigator: Andras Jakab, Fritjof Helmchen, Theo Karayannis

Platforms: mesoSPIM, HDDA

PhD student: Michelle Antonios