Enida Gjoni, Ph.D.

University of California, San Diego

Enida Gjoni was born in Albania. During her childhood, she moved to Italy, where she pursued her studies in medical biotechnology at the University of Milan. She chose the neuroscience curriculum and her master’s thesis project consisted in studying the role of bioactive sphingolipids in glioblastoma-derived cell lines. She did her doctoral studies at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland. This work focused on the functional and structural characterization of excitatory and inhibitory synapses within a binaural circuit of the brainstem, involved in sound localization. She combined patch-clamp recordings in mouse brain slices with volume electron microscopy. For her postdoctoral studies, Enida joined Takaki Komiyama’s lab at the University of California, San Diego, where she currently investigates how different brain regions communicate and coordinate together in order to generate precise movements. She uses two-photon microscopy to image active neurons as mice perform motor behaviors.

Principal Investigator: Takaki Komiyama

Fellow: Hannah Kim

Motor behaviors arise from dynamic interactions of interconnected neural populations across different brain areas. The underlying principles of information flow remain largely unknown. This project aims to determine the functional role of neuronal pathways involving motor cortex and intralaminar thalamus in driving specific subpopulations of the striatum — the input nucleus of the basal ganglia — during movement. For this, the activity of direct and indirect pathway medium spiny neurons (dMSNs and iMSNs) in the striatum will be imaged as mice perform motor tasks, by using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging through GRIN lens. Concomitantly, optogenetic inactivation of cortical or thalamic inputs will be performed and the effect of these manipulations on the striatal activity will be quantified. These experiments will help elucidate whether and how cortical and thalamic inputs contribute differentially to the activity of dMSNs and iMSNs.

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