Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Jon-Ruben van Rhijn (Donders series 363)

24 January 2019

Promotor: prof. dr. S. Fisher
Co-promotors: dr. N. Nadif Kasri, dr. S. Vernes

The role of FoxP2 in striatal circuitry

The ability of humans to communicate using words is dependent on brain circuits that activate and control the muscles in the face. Though these circuits are heavily involved in speech production in humans, they are present as well in more simple animals such mice, where they facilitate complex movement. In people with mutations in the gene FOXP2, the production of complex words is impaired. In my research I have used a mouse model to investigate how mutations in this gene affect brain circuits involved in movement. I show that mutation of Foxp2 in mouse results in impaired activation of these circuits and these mice are less able to perform complex movement tasks. In the human brain these changes can very well underlie the problems people with mutations in FOXP2 have with speaking. The next step is to investigate these changes in neurons derived from human material, to further understand how the human brain enables us to speak. Better understanding of the mechanisms affected by mutations of FoxP2 can help to further develop possible therapeutical interventions. ​