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Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF

Faculty - Alexandra Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

The cellular and circuit mechanisms of movement disorders

Research Description

We are interested in understanding the cellular and circuit basis of motor control, particularly in the context of movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease and Dystonia.  In these conditions, the basal ganglia and connected structures, which govern normal motor control, are dysfunctional, leading to loss of normal movements and/or the generation of involuntary movements.  We use a combination of mouse models of disease, optogenetics, behavior, and slice and in vivo electrophysiology to identify aberrant synaptic connections or patterns of activity which contribute to disease phenotypes.  We hope that by identifying the underlying cellular and synaptic mechanisms, new treatments can be developed for these disorders.

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Current Projects

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Lab Members

Alexandra Nelson, PI
Ally Girasole, graduate student
Diane Nathaniel, research assistant

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Selected Publications

Selected publications

Nelson AB, Kreitzer AC. Reassessing Models of Basal Ganglia Function, in press, Annual Reviews Neuroscience, 2014.

Nelson AB, Bussert TG, Kreitzer AC, Seal RP.  Corelease of glutamate and acetylcholine by cholinergic interneurons onto fast spiking interneurons of the striatum. J. Neurosci, 2014, 34(26):8772-7.

Nelson AB, Hammack N, Seal RP, Kreitzer AC. Striatal cholinergic interneurons drive axo-axonic GABA release from dopamine terminals.  Neuron. 2014 Apr 2;82(1):63-70.

Nelson AB, Hang GB, Grueter BA, Pascoli V, Luscher C, Malenka R, Kreitzer AC.  Normal striatum-dependent behavior in dopamine receptor BAC trangenic mice.  J. Neurosci 32(27): 9119-23, 2012.

Gittis A, Nelson A, Kreitzer A.  Distinct roles of GABAergic interneurons in the regulation of striatal output pathways. J Neurosci, 2010.

Nelson AB, Gittis AH, du Lac, S.  Decreases in CaMKII activity trigger persistent potentiation of intrinsic excitability in spontaneously firing vestibular nucleus neurons.  Neuron 46: 623-631, 2005

Nelson AB, Krispel CM, Sekirnjak C, du Lac S.  Long-lasting increases in intrinsic excitability triggered by inhibition.  Neuron 40: 609-620, 2003.

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Alexandra Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.




Office Address

675 Nelson Rising Lane
San Francisco, CA 94158

Other Websites

Lab Website