Timothy E. Holy, PhD

Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Neuroscience

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

The nervous system translates thoughts into action, but the details of exactly how this occurs are unknown. The basal ganglia, once thought to be solely involved with movement, are now appreciated as having a complex role in action selection, learning, and motor initiation. Many neuropsychiatric disorders (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, stuttering) involve aberrations in the crucial step from “desire to move” to the actual “movement.” Utilizing the first genetic animal model of stuttering combined with optogenetic, electrophysiological, and genetic approaches, we address two fundamental aspects of motor behavior: 1) What goes awry in diseases where the initiation of motor sequences fails? and 2) How do the basal ganglia contribute to translating thought into actions?