Research Fellows Directory
Dr Andrew Peters
University College London
Producing and guiding movements is the evolutionary purpose of the brain, but we don't have a solid understanding of how the brain controls the body. I approach this broad concept by studying the primary motor cortex, which is the direct link between the brain and the spinal cord (which in turn directly activates muscles). Specifically, I look at how activity in this area changes with motor skill learning. Even though the motor cortex is only a few steps away from muscles, it has been found that it is actually capable of profound changes when animals learn new movements. These changes possibly create connected groups of neurons responsible for executing each movement learned throughout life. The general goal of my project is to characterize what changes occur in the motor cortex with learning in an attempt to more generally understand how signals in our brain are translated into movements. These studies are accomplished using two-photon calcium imaging, which is a relatively new technique that allows us to visualize the activity of hundreds of specific neurons every day over the course of weeks.
As a Newton Fellow, I will transition into studying how information flows through the cortex. In a visually guided behavior, incoming visual input is ultimately transformed into commands for the motor system, but this progression of activity is not well understood. I will examine how this progression occurs, and how it is shaped by the basal ganglia which are key regulators of cortical activity.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)