Formation and malformation of functional neural circuits
A unique strength of the zebrafish is that larvae are accessible to imaging at all stages of development and that the visual system first becomes functional very early during brain development. We are using the imaging approaches described above to examine the functional properties of nascent visual circuits, the process of circuit maturation and the influence of genes and sensory experience on the functional development of visual circuits.
We are also combining the ability image the larval zebrafish brain with genome editing techniques (TALENS and CRISPR/Cas9) to study how normal patterns of circuit assembly and function are perturbed in zebrafish models of human neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. Our studies will reveal whether sensory perception, behavioural choice, sensorimotor gating and functional connectivity are altered in ways that might explain the some of the behavioural manifestations of these disorders.