Xin Jin -how learned behaviors are organized and controlled by different brain cell types
Xin Jin -how learned behaviors are organized and controlled by different brain cell types

(light upbeat music) – We all perform series of
movements throughout our day, but we still don’t really understand how those series of
movements are organized. There’s been this longstanding debate that series of actions might be organized as either a hierarchy,
and you can think of this as having different levels of control, or they might be organized in a chain. You can think of this as
kind of like dominoes. You set off that first action and it causes a cascade
of subsequent actions – Why is this important? Our study has provided
very important insight in terms of how to treat disease,
like Parkinson’s Disease, which has problems with
start or stop action, or psychiatric disease like OCD, which has problems with
switching from one motor program to another motor program. – What we did is we turned to mice, because we can train mice
to perform action sequences and we also have all of these
amazing tools and techniques, such as optogenetics, to
actually turn on or turn off different cells in the brain. We designed a task for the mice, you can think of this like
playing the piano for humans, instead of playing notes on the piano, they’re playing a series of lever presses. And what they do is
they perform this series of lever presses to receive
a little treat at the end. We could actually use optogenetics to activate different cells in the brain while animals perform this sequence. And by disrupting the behavior
in a very precise way, we could investigate how
the sequence was organized. What we found is that in the striatum, which is this area of the brain that’s part of the basal ganglia, thought to be heavily
involved in movement, it’s classically believed
that different pathways in the striatum function in
opposition to control movement, but what we found is that
actually there was more complexity to how these two pathways are behaving. – In this particular study, we provide conclusive evidence that suggests that learned action sequence
is actually organized in a hierarchical manner,
and not in a series chain. And more importantly, we found cells in the brain structure called striatum. There are different cells responsible for different levels of behavior. Meaning, they work together
and are complementary to control the behavior hierarchy. – I hope that down the road this will have important implications for individuals that struggle with properly
performing action sequences, such as Parkinson’s or
Huntington’s disease or individuals that have
difficulty transitioning to new actions like those with
obsessive-compulsive disorder who often have trouble
switching to new things. – I’m particularly
excited about the study, because it solved a long-standing
debate in the field. At the same time, it provides new insight for potential treatment for
different neural disease. (light upbeat music)

1 thought on “Xin Jin -how learned behaviors are organized and controlled by different brain cell types”

  1. sonycecube says:

    Hoping for a cure for Tourettes sufferers too, thank you. Wishing you all, the best! 🙂

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