Performing the actions necessary for achieving a desired outcome requires spatial and temporal control over movement. Skillful action often emerges over the course of training, wherein task efficiency improves with the temporal refinement of action. My PhD research focusses on the behavioural acquisition of this optimized timing of action; exploring the contribution of cortico- and intra-basal ganglia circuitry. To study these circuits, I am using circuit-specific viral techniques and wide-field confocal microscopy to map intracellular markers of learning. In addition to this project, I have been exploring the role of amygdala-cortical connections within a wider fronto-striatal network; particularly focused on its involvement in goal-directed behaviour. These projects incorporate both early-stage goal-directed acquisition of actions and their transition into later-stage temporally refined actions.
Fisher, SD, Ferguson, LA, Bertran-Gonzalez, J & Balleine, BW (2020). Amygdala-cortical control of striatal plasticity drives the acquisition of goal-directed action. Current Biology. Read More.
Fisher, S.D., Ferguson, L.A., Bertran-Gonzalez, J., and Balleine, B.W. (2020). Amygdala-cortical control of striatal plasticity drives the acquisition of goal-directed action. BioRxiv 2020.02.28.970616. Read More.
Ferguson, L.A., Petty, A., Rohrscheib, C., Troup, M., Kirszenblat, L., Eyles, D.W., and van Swinderen, B. (2017). Transient Dysregulation of Dopamine Signaling in a Developing Drosophila Arousal Circuit Permanently Impairs Behavioral Responsiveness in Adults. Front. Psychiatry 8. Read More.