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A brave new world

 

Animals use the sensory landscape to locate and interact with objects, conspecifics, food sources; they can follow the scent of a prey, its sound, its moving shape. Such sensory landscape is a spatially coherent ensemble, all target derived sensory information originates and identifies a unique position in space. What would happen if we fragmented this sensory coherency, could we still direct movements towards the intended target?    

In order to do that we developed software and hardware for an immersive virtual reality environment for mice. Our aim is to test the extent of the plasticity of the sensory-motor alignment in the context of goal-oriented actions. In the virtual reality environment we can offset the target from its sensory content. We study how, behaviourally, animals realign their motor map to a spatially offset sensory world. We also study what circuits rearrangements underlie the occurring behavioural compensations.