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Team “Cellular mechanisms of sensory processing”


Cellular physiology of cortical microcircuits Main domain: Neurophysiology The human brain is composed by millions of neurons that communicate with each other using an even greater number ofsynapses. An open question is how those neurons with all its connections give rise to most of animal and human behavior? In the lab we investigate the cellular and network mechanisms at the origin of sensory perception

From the drowsiness of a daydreaming commuter in his suburb train, to the heightened vigilance of a rock climber executing a difficult move, sensation during wakefulness takes place under drastically different conditions, themselves associated to various perceptual outcomes.
A remarkable property of sensory systems is therefore to provide a flexible strategy to process afferent information in a context-dependent manner. Such a flexibility in the computation of incoming signals appears to be a key feature of cortical processing in the healthy brain.
Indeed, reduced context-dependent sensory processing and adaptability underlies several brain disorders like Schizophrenia and Depression. Yet, the combination of circuit and cellular features shaping such modulations is still poorly understood.
In the lab we use a multidisciplinary approach, involving, electrophysiology, brain imaging (two-photon), optogenetics both in vivo and in vitro as well as computer modeling to understand how neuronal networks process sensory information and how this process is influenced by context. Working in the primary somatosensory cortex of mice we try to identify previously unnoticed cellular mechanisms that are essential for information
processing by the brain.
Our goal is also to investigate how such cellular mechanisms are modified or altered in the pathological brain and eventually uncover new molecular targets with potential therapeutical value.

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