David ThuraCentre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon (CRNL) - CNRS / Inserm / Université Claude Bernard / Université Jean Monnet
I'm interested in the neural mechanisms underlying the higher-order brain functions linking perception and action. My Ph.D. research (2003-2007) focused on the role of the Frontal Eye Field during eye-hand coordination and ocular exploration of peripersonal space. My post-doctoral stage in Paul Cisek's lab at University of Montreal provided me with the opportunity to pursue my PhD’s line of research while extending my technical and theoretical competences to multi-electrode recording and computational modeling. My research project was based on a new model of how the brain makes decisions over time. I recorded single neurons in monkey PFC, PMd and M1 to explore the neural correlates of dynamic decision-making. As a research associate in Paul Cisek's lab at University of Montreal (2014-2018), I explored the neural bases of speed-accuracy trade-off adjustments during dynamic decisions and movement execution. In 2017 I received the ATIP/Avenir award on a project whose aim is to investigate the role of the basal ganglia in the regulation of decision and action during goal-oriented behavior. I am a tenured INSERM researcher since 2018, investigating this regulation mechanism through behavioral, electrophysiological and modeling approaches at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center.
Mon projet ATIP-Avenir
The basal ganglia regulate decision-making and motor control to optimize the rate of reward: Basic approach and clinical perspective
With this proposal, I intend to investigate the linkage between mechanisms of decision and action regulation, with the perspective of providing new clinically relevant conclusions. My recent findings in the basal ganglia (BG) implicate this structure in the unified control of both decision urgency and movement vigor. Preliminary data indeed suggest that the output of the BG compute urgency, a neural signal that modulates cortical activity related to action selection and execution, in agreement with predictions of a new computational model. Yet, many aspects of this potentially crucial observation need to be further explored. I thus designed a new behavioral task to univocally demonstrate whether or not a global signal energizes both the urgency of decisions and the vigor of the selected action. Then, I will carry out simultaneous, multi-electrode recordings in several key structures of the monkey brain to reveal the neural substrate of this regulation mechanism. I intend to investigate (1) whether and how the different pathways of the BG co-activate to encode the urgency signal, (2) the nature and origin of its precursors, and (3) the respective role of the BG and the thalamus in the selection and the regulation of actions. To summarize, while the basal ganglia has been a subject of intense investigations for decades, their role in decision-making and motor control is still highly debated. My project will shed light on this timely topic and should bring new clinically relevant data related to the cognitive side effects commonly observed in Parkinson’s disease patients treated by means of deep brain stimulation as well as on the dysfunctions associated with common neurologic diseases, such as impulsivity.