Job ID: 66064
Ph.D. Student : Studying brain circuits involved in spatial orientation in Paris
Position: Ph.D. Student
Deadline: 12 February 2022
Employment Start Date: 1 April 2022
Contract Length: 3 years
Institution: CNRS - Université de Paris
We are seeking two candidates – PhD student or post-doctoral fellow – for fully funded positions at the Université de Paris working in the center of Paris. The successful candidates will be involved in an innovative project dedicated to studying the neural basis of orientation in space by recording from head-direction circuits in freely moving animals and in brain slices. The positions will be filled between April 2022, or at the latest, in October 2022.
Orientation in space is a fundamental cognitive process based on the Head Direction (HD) system, that functions as the brain’s compass. HD signals are generated from vestibular inputs, are stabilized through visual cues and are internally organized to maintain directional activity. How specific brain areas produce the stability of HD signals and their rapid resetting to visual landmarks is poorly studied from a neurophysiological point of view. This project aims to understand the dynamical structure of the spatial orientation network of neurons in the Presubiculum in behaving mice. The hypothesis is that specific classes of interneurons stabilize and gate the reset of the attractor network through disinhibition. We propose to record and manipulate populations of HD neurons and interneurons, and to define synaptic and circuit interactions underlying visual landmark updating. Cell-type specific calcium imaging during free spatial exploration will give unprecedented insights in the neural correlates of spatial coding. Electrophysiological recordings from brain slices will further elucidate the circuitry involved in the dynamics of the HD signal.
The candidates will use state-of-the-art optogenetic techniques (including leading-edge miniscope imaging) to record and to opto- or chemogeneticaly manipulate neural activities in the presubiculum in freely behaving animals. Experiments in brain slices will use whole-cell patch clamping recordings to study synaptic input pathways, pharmacology and cellular computations. The host laboratories provide a young and stimulating environment with combined expertise in presubicular function, electrophysiological and imaging techniques.
The project is proposed jointly by Desdemona Fricker and Michael Graupner, at the Université de Paris (INCC and SPPIN CNRS laboratories, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, Paris, France). If successful, the candidates will receive a 3-year PhD contract or a 2-year postdoctoral contract, funded by an European Flag-ERA HBP grant.
The ideal candidates have practical skills for experimental work, a background in neurophysiology, and a desire to understand the principles underlying the functioning of the nervous system. Animal surgery, animal handling and programming skills are beneficial. Post-doc applicants should hold a PhD in or related to neuroscience.
For applications we request: (i) a cover letter including a statement of motivation, (ii) a curriculum vitae, as well as, (iii) the names and addresses, including emails, of two academic references.