Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Fuccillo Lab

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Research in the Fuccillo lab

Abnormalities in behavior control are a core feature of many neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and addiction. These abnormalities manifest across a spectrum, from deficits in simple motor output (tics or repetitive movements) to alterations in executive control (dysfunction in cognitive tasks that guide planning and decision-making in response to motivation, environmental cues and previous experience).

We aim to understand how neuronal circuits contribute to behavioral control and how inherited mutations compromise brain function leading to abnormal behavioral output. Leveraging the experimental potential of mouse genetics, my lab uses three parallel approaches:

I. Exploring the molecular heterogeneity of neural circuits that regulate behavior

II. Observing and manipulating distinct circuit components that shape behavioral output 

III. Employing genetic disease modeling in mice to understand how physiological dysfunction in specific brain circuits translates into abnormalities of behavioral regulation

(Left) Sagital section of mouse striatum expressing tdTomato in D1R+ medium spiny neurons (MSNs) and EGFP in D2R+ MSNs, allowing for identification of cell-type in acute brain slice. (Right) Infection of nucleus accumbens (ventral striatum) with virus expressing channelrhodopsin to study basal ganglia synaptic connectivity.