How neural developmental programs are linked to the establishment of mature brain circuits and related behavior remains a central question of neuroscience. Our previous studies revealed that a class of neural progenitors defined by the expression of the homeodomain encoding transcription factor, Dbx1, are dedicated for the generation of subsets of neurons of the limbic system including the olfactory bulb. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that Dbx1+ progenitors located in a distinct embryonic niche generate a functionally distinct interconnected subset of olfactory bulb output neurons that are dedicated to the processing of subsets of innate behaviors. Testing of this hypothesis will be accomplished using a combination of multidisciplinary approaches including genetic fate mapping, optogenetics and innate behavioral testing.
Understanding how the brain perceives and processes information from the outside world for appropriate behavioral output is an important scientific challenge. Abnormal processing of environmental stimuli is associated with brain developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders. Using the mouse as a model, this proposal is directed toward understanding the neural developmental programs that underlie the formation of olfactory bulb circuitry dedicated for the processing of subsets of innate behaviors. Thus, this study will provide novel insight into how brain development is linked to mammalian behavior.