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Andrew Miri

Assistant Professor, Department of Neurobiology

Ph.D., Princeton University


Regions(s): Systems Neuroscience; Brain and Behavior

Research interest(s): Motor system function; Behavior quantification

Research Summary

Our work aims to build mechanistic understanding of how the nervous system gives rise to movement. The patterns of muscle activation that drive movement reflect an interplay between neuronal circuits in the spinal cord and brain regions such as the motor cortex that engage these circuits through descending projections. The logic of this engagement remains obscure however, due in part to the timescales on which neuronal activity fluctuations and activity perturbation responses have previously been assessed.

To address this ambiguity, we use mice to examine the influence of descending projections from motor cortex, known to be critical for the diversity and agility characteristic of mammalian movement. We use an array of methods for measuring and perturbing neural activity, including calcium indicator imaging, high-density electrical recording, and optogenetic perturbation, as mice perform various motor behaviors. These methods are combined with genetically-mediated approaches for targeting particular neuronal subtypes and with computational analyses of neuronal activity dynamics. In the near term, the following fundamental yet unresolved questions guide our work:

  • During what types of movement does motor cortical output drive muscle activity?
  • What mechanisms enable such influence to be specific to certain movements?
  • How does motor cortical output engage spinal circuits to enable movement diversity and agility?
  • What are the appropriate functional elements with which to describe mechanisms of motor cortical influence?

Selected Publications

Selected Honors/Awards

  • 2017 Allen Brain Institute Next Generation Leadership Council
  • 2013-2016 Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2010 Princeton University Graduate Teaching Award in Neuroscience
  • 2006-2010 National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship
  • 2002 Phi Beta Kappa
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