Our laboratory is dedicated to the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for controlling proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitors during development of the cerebral cortex and adult neurogenesis. Using contemporary techniques of molecular biology to manipulate gene expression in neural progenitors or neurons, we investigate the roles of different proteins and signaling pathways in neuronal and glial specification, as well as on neuronal survival and differentiation both in the developing brain and adult cerebral cortex after ischemic or traumatic injuries such as cerebral infarction. We also use techniques of cell transplantation to study the origins of stem cells in the adult brain and to evaluate the effect of environment on the differentiation of neural progenitors. The effects of gene manipulation and cell transplantation described above are evaluated using... ( More information )
Our group works with circuit analysis using electrophysiology and imaging. We basically employ all the 'flavours' of patch-clamp techniques (see publications), dynamic clamp and brain modelling (from single neurons to complex networks). Regarding imaging, we work with Ca2+, Na+ and voltage imaging using dyes and we recently started to express genetically encoded voltage and Ca2+ sensors in neurons. Our group's main research topic is the study of the transfer function implemented by neurons and networks of neurons with a particular focus on the contribution of oscillations in neuronal coding in the hippocampus. Our current activities include the development of a system capable to acquire and analyse field oscillations in hippocampal slices in real time. Analysed signals are then used to modulate the firing of an artificial neuron connected to a real pyramidal... ( More information )
Meu laboratório está interessado em compreender as bases genética do aprendizado vocal. Nós nos concentramos no processo pelo qual aves canoras adquirem suas vocalizações, um processo análogo à aquisição da fala em humanos. Para resolver esta questão, nós desenvolvemos novas tecnologias para gerar pássaros transgênicos. Estes animais geneticamente modificados nos permitem investigar a contribuição de genes para a formação e funcionamento dos circuitos envolvidos no aprendizado e produção vocal. Além disso, nós também estudamos os mecanismos homeostáticos envolvidos na manutenção de memórias motoras estereotipadas. Para responder à estas e outras questões, usamos uma combinação de manipulações genéticas agudas e crônicas para perturbar a atividade de neurônios individuais ou regiões inteiras do cérebro, juntamente com imageamento de cálcio em animais se comportando livremente, e análises comportamentais detalhadas de sinais vocais. ... ( More information )
This research group is interested in understanding the link between pathological oscillations and epilepsy. They have been studying the anatomical reorganization and the changes in neuronal excitability that take place in the limbic system after a brain insult. Since the epileptic brain presents major alterations in the network excitability, why is the epileptic brain not constantly seizing? What are the cellular and network alterations that give rise to epileptiform paroxysms? In which structures do these changes take place? How easily is to foresee these alterations? Once a seizure is detected, how can one abort its progression before the behavioral manifestation? These are some of the general questions with which this group is currently involved. Their major goal is the improvement of the quality of life of people with epilepsy and... ( More information )
An influential notion in neuroscience is that the characterization of response properties of single cells is fundamental for understanding cognitive processes. In the visual system, the finding that responses are generally specific and selective to particular attributes of an object has led to the idea that neurons actually behave as detectors capable of extracting information from the outside world. According to this view, perception would be the result of encoding multiple elementary features through a modular analysis that is both parallel and hierarchical.
Viewing the functional organization of the brain as a collection of individual cells, each performing some kind of feature extraction, belittles, however, the fact that the brain is a highly interconnected structure both within and between processing modules. A more appropriate level of description is to consider cooperative... ( More information )