The cerebellum is a part of the brain essential for control and learning of
precise movements, and possibly many other functions.
In humans, it contains about a half of all the
the neurons in the brain. We are studying the cerebellum of a
simpler animal - the larval zebrafish, were we can examine in
detail the structure and function of different cell types
in a behavioural context.
Our recent paper
on functional characterisation of granule cells
has been published in the journal Current Biology, and we are following
up on this research by examining other cell types, their interactions and
the role in behavior.
Detecting visual motion and estimating its direction and speed is
a fundamental computation across all sighted animals.
The inputs - the moving images - are fully controllable,
and the outputs - body motion - can be precisely measured.
Though this problem has been attracting researchers
for many decades, there is still a lack of
understanding of the full set of computations
involved in motion estimation.
In our studies we make use the innate behaviour of
larval zebrafish to follow moving backgrounds (the optomotor response).
Using stimuli with statistical properties based on natural scenes,
we observe that zebrafish larvae have behavioral responses similar to
those of flies and humans.
Taking advantage of the functional imaging opportunities that zebrafish
neuroscience offers we aim to understand the underlying circuitry
involved in this behavior. We focus on the representations of this
behavior in retinorecipient areas and in central brain regions
using two-photon calcium imaging.