About the Department
Billions of neurons within the central nervous system communicate to each other through trillions of synapses. They produce, decode, transfer, integrate and store information on time scales ranging from milliseconds to decades. Synapses define the dynamic links between neurons resulting in networks that, as a whole, produce complex behaviors such as cognition. The interconnected neuronal circuits exhibit plasticity in their cellular composition and functions, changing throughout development, aging, in response to the environment, during experience and learning, in response to insult, as well as during restoration of functions. One among the primary goals of neuroscience research is to understand how the cellular and molecular building blocks of the brain are dynamically connected to process sensory information and to perform higher cognitive functions. Defects of the brain neuronal connectivity are emerging in a broad range of human disorders with both early and late onset. Severe neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders affect more than 1% of the population. More than 1% of individuals suffer from severe to profound hearing impairment and up to 30% of people after 65 years are affected in their communication by hearing loss. Severe addiction might also be related to defect in brain connectivity and afflicts a substantial proportion of the adult population.
Pasteur examining a spinal cord specimen in a Roux bottle
· We aim to understand the molecular, cellular, and network mechanisms that shape dynamic connectivity within the brain and result in learning, memory, sensory perception, social communication and cognition.
· We aim to understand how genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors individually and collectively shape dynamic brain connectivity, and result in neurological/psychiatric disorders.
· We aim to develop pharmacological and genetic tools for preventing/alleviating/curing peripheral and central neuronal circuit deficits.