Laboratory of Neural Circuit Plasticity

  • Our laboratory investigates the function and mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in cortico-limbic circuits required for the coordination of cognitive, emotional and social behaviors. Neurons located in the prefrontal cortex, ventral hippocampus, thalamus and basal forebrain make up networks involved to accomplish these behaviors. Evidence indicates that dysfunctions in these circuits underlie the appearance of abnormal behaviors observed in neurological and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and autism. Our lab is particularly interested in understanding how oscillatory coupling between the hipocampus and prefrontal cortex correlates to synaptic plasticity mechanisms such as LTP and LTD and how they are modulated by the local cortical GABAergic neurons. Additional focus of our lab is to investigate (1) how epileptic circuits increase the vulnerability of individuals to develop psychiatric symptoms and (2) which are the mechanisms by which neural networks in autism are affected. In order to address these questions, we use electrophysiological recordings in animal models of epilepsy and autism and evaluate neuronal activity in cortical and subcortical areas such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and thalamus. We analyze oscillations between different brain areas and correlate local field potentials, multi-unit activity and synaptic plasticity changes. Others strategies being currently undertaken in the lab include LFP-coupled ultrasound vocalization recordings, exomic sequencing and gene expression analysis using RNAseq and implementation of closed-loop electrophysiology.

    Principal investigators

    Ph.D. students

    M.Sc. students

    Undergraduate students


    • João Pereira Leite

      Areas of interest: Neuropathology and neuroimaging of epilepsies, epilepsy surgery, cerebrovascular disease, animal models of neurological diseases, neurodegeneration and neuroplasticity.

    • Cleiton Lopes Aguiar

      Areas of interest: It investigates the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity responsible for the process of memory formation during sleep.

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