“ATIP – Avenir” for Anna Beyeler
Anna Beyeler is team leader : ‘Neural Circuits of Anxiety’ at the Neurocentre Magendie.
Anna Beyeler’s project:
Anatomical and functional diversity in the insular cortex: implication for the physiopathology of anxiety disorders.
The insular cortex is a brain region which has extensively been reported as overactive in patients with anxiety disorders. However, clinicians are still in need for answers regarding the function and anatomy of this understudied structure. The objective of this research program is to identify the functional role of the insular cortex in healthy conditions. We will capitalize on technologies recently developed in mice which allow mapping, manipulation, imaging and recording of selective neural populations. After identifying critical insular projections (outputs) and inputs, we will disentangle their role in valence and anxiety-related behaviors.
To identify essential populations of the insular cortex for the regulation of anxiety, we will use classical retrograde and anterograde tracing in mice, combined with whole-brain activity-dependent mapping using the CLARITY technique. We will then integrate this knowledge and perform optogenetic gain and loss of function experiments to test the impact of different insular projector populations on anxiety-related behaviors. To go beyond the role of a projection in a healthy conditions, we will search for synaptic changes of selective insular pathways after the animal was exposed to experiences of positive or negative valence. Finally, we will monitor the neural activity of input and output populations using calcium imaging (multisite fiber-photometry).
This research will provide a novel understanding of the structure and function of the insular cortex, which will have fundamental implications to apprehend the physiopathology of anxiety disorders.