Andrew Miri Neural mechanisms of motor system function

Research Interests

Our work aims to build mechanistic understanding of how the nervous system gives rise to movement. The patterns of muscle activation that drive movement reflect an interplay between neuronal circuits in the spinal cord and an array of brain regions that comprise the motor system. Yet how this interplay gives rise to the remarkable complexity, agility and precision of mammalian movement is poorly understood. This ambiguity stems largely from the historical challenge of characterizing interactions between neuronal populations in the motor system over the short timescale (milliseconds) on which the activity of muscles must be coordinated during movement.

Fortunately, a wealth of recent technical advances newly enable such characterization. Thanks to emerging physiological methods, we can now comprehensively assess activity across large motor system populations and observe correlations in activity between populations, which are important indicators of how populations interact. With new genetic tools, neural activity measurement and perturbation can be targeted to distinct subpopulations of neurons, which may represent the elemental units of motor system operation. And rapidly evolving data science methods can identify prominent patterns and salient effects in the measured activities of populations of neurons and muscles.

My lab uses these techniques to address questions like the following:

  • How do disparate motor system populations conspire to generate skilled motor behaviors?
  • How does motor cortical output engage spinal circuits to enable movement complexity and agility?
  • What are the most appropriate elemental functional units with which to describe mechanisms of motor system operation?

Selected Publications

Behaviorally Selective Engagement of Short-Latency Effector Pathways by Motor Cortex. Miri A, Warriner CL, Seely JS, Elsayed GF, Cunningham JP, Churchland MM, and Jessell TM. Neuron. 2017 August 2;95(3):683-696.e11.

Primacy of Flexor Locomotor Pattern Revealed by Ancestral Reversion of Motor Neuron Identity. Machado TA, Pnevmatikakis E, Paninski L, Jessell TM, and Miri A. Cell. 2015 July 16;162(2):338-350.

Edging toward Entelechy in Motor Control. Miri A, Azim E, and Jessell TM. Neuron. 2013 October 30;80(3):827-834.

Spatial gradients and multidimensional dynamics in a neural integrator circuit. Miri A, Daie K, Arrenberg AB, Baier H, Aksay E, and Tank DW. Nature Neuroscience. 2011 August 21;14(9):1150-1159.

Regression-Based Identification of Behavior-Encoding Neurons During Large-Scale Optical Imaging of Neural Activity at Cellular Resolution. Miri A, Daie K, Burdine RD, Aksay E, and Tank DW. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2011 February 1;105(2):964-980.

View all publications by Andrew Miri listed in the National Library of Medicine (PubMed).