Social intentionality, action and intention representation
Mechanisms underlying the ability to create a shared world
Temporal cognition and role of temporal mechanisms in object processing
Kinematics, Neuroimaging (fMRI)
Biological psychiatry, depression, human genetics, the stress-hormone system
My main research interest is exploring the interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the development of psychiatric disorders, particularly anxiety disorders and depression. My research group uses endocrine, molecular genetic and psychometric methods to clarify these interrelations. A more precise knowledge of these interactions may make it possible to identify biologically distinct groups of patients and then to provide each group with more targeted, and thus better, treatment.
My research focuses on understanding how fear memories are acquired and remembered. I propose a key role for the interaction of two neurotransmitters (dopamine and glutamate) and will investigate their potential involvement as key substrates of fear memories.
I combine behavioural, cellular and molecular analyses of the underlying mechanisms of memory. In this way, my aim is to find targets for pharmacotherapy to disrupt such memories specifically.
Neuroscience, Neuropharmacology, Ion channels, Pain
Voltage-gated calcium channel function, determined by electrophysiology and by optical methods
Calcium channel trafficking, relationship of calcium channel function to the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain
Psychobiology, assessment and treatment of chronic and acute pain
Neural correlates of learning and memory
Psychobiology und treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, addiction and personality disorders
Psychobiology and treatment of tinnitus
Radboud university medical center, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Neuroscience, Nijmegen
Area of specialisation
Genetics of multifactorial diseases in humans, in particular of psychiatric disorders
I study the genetic factors predisposing to psychiatric disorders - attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders and dyslexia in particular. In addition to gene-finding approaches, I try to understand the mechanisms behind the genetic risk factors and unravel the pathways leading from gene to disease.
Developmental disorders with a neurological basis, in particular autism, Asperger syndrome, dyslexia
Social interactions and communication
Causes of a lack of communication in autism
The influence of cultural factors on cognitive development
Applying the methods and insights of neuroscience to education
Cognitive neuroscience, brain imaging of language and of audition
The Brain and Language lab, which I established in 2012 at the University of Geneva, studies the functional and structural bases of auditory and linguistic processing and learning using brain imaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI (sMRI) and diffusion weighted imaging (DTI).
We aim to better understand the neural bases of language and multilingualism, with an emphasis on specific language components such as phonology and grammar. We also study brain plasticity arising from learning and from the acquisition of expertise, as well as brain functional and structural difference in language disorders such as dyslexia.
Neuroscience, olfactory system, behavioural research, development of the nervous systems
Development and function of neural networks of sensory systems -- in particular, of the olfactory system
Fly genetics and other model systems are employed, in order to identify and characterise neural networks. Molecular mechanisms in the development and function of neurons of the sensory nervous system are investigated
The long-term goal is to understand how the brain controls instinctive behaviour and how the neural networks responsible for this are structured.
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Alicante
Area of specialisation
The proper development and connectivity of an adult brain need the extension and guide of neuronal axons to their targets where they will establish appropriate synapses. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying axon guidance and target recognition during the development of the nervous system. We focus on the binary decision of crossing or not the midline that many different types of axons must take at some point of their trajectory and how later they reach their final targets at both sides of the brain and once there, sensory information from both brain hemispheres is integrated and processed. Many features of mature neural function, including the interpretation of sensory information and the coordination of locomotion, depend on coherent communication between the two halves of the nervous system. Therefore, the correct formation of bilateral circuits is essential for the perfect functioning of the mature brain. To understand the mechanisms underlying the development of bilateral circuits our group applies a multidisciplinary set of approaches ranging from mouse genetics, anatomic studies and gene delivery in vivo and in vitro using the mouse visual system as a model.
Adult neural stem cells; glia; astrocytes; Alzheimer; Parkinson; Intermediate filaments; cytoskeleton; human brain; mouse models; in vitro models
Adult neural stem cells in neurodegeneration:
The subventricular zone (SVZ) is a principal source of neural stem cells in the adult brain and is situated close to the striatum, which is deprived of dopaminergic innervation in Parkinson (PD) patients. We have developed a method to culture adult neural stem cells isolated from post-mortem human brain material from PD patients and elderly donors. Our main aim is to find drugable targets in the adult human NSCs, which can be stimulated to increase neurogenesis in the SVZ and thereby facilitate repair of striatal dysfunction in Parkinson, and validate these targets in novel human cell models. Our unique human adult neural stem cell cultures will disclose novel molecular and cellular information, essential for the development of future therapies based on activating the brain's own repair capacity. We are setting up techniques to isolate slowly proliferating neurogenic astrocytes (the true stem cells) from the mouse SVZ to identify unique markers compared to normal SVZ astrocytes.
Reactive astrocytes in neurodegeneration:
Alzheimer's disease starts with an increased production and aggregation of amyloid-beta, which triggers the activation of glia. We have developed procedures to isolate pure populations of astrocytes and microglia from adult mice brains to study their gene expression profile and inflammatory response induced by amyloid-?. Our data show that the transition of astrocytes from their normal quiescent state into a reactive state coincides with changes in the expression of genes involved in neuron-glia interactions and in inflammation. We plan to further explore which glial processes are involved in controlling plaque deposition and we aim at elucidating how molecular changes in reactive astrocytes contribute to functional changes in cortical and hippocampal microcircuits.
Aicardi-Goutières sydrome (AGS) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder affecting newborns. Neuropathological defects include microencephaly, astrogliosis, calcifications, cerebral atrophy and white matter destruction. Astrocytes are the cells responsible for cytokine production in AGS, which peaks in the perinatal period and which is thought to induce the neurological symptoms of this ailment. We study how the activated astrocytes contribute to AGS pathogenesis.
The astrocytic intermediate filament (IF) cytoskeleton:
Neurogenic and reactive astrocytes have a specialized IF-cytoskeleton. IFs have recently come to be recognized to be highly versatile cytoskeletal structures with a major function in cell signalling and migration. To elucidate the function of the IF-network we modulate the expression IFs by both silencing and overexpression in cell models and in mice. We search for novel molecular pathways regulated by the IF-network and involved in the neurogenic potential of SVZ astrocytes. Cells sense their environment and react to mechanical stimuli and external forces. A rearrangement in the IF-cytoskeleton is likely to be involved in the feedback signalling to the nucleus, which alters gene expression. This mechanism is important for controlling stem cell differentiation. We are studying how the IF-cytoskeleton is involved in force-transduction and differentiation of neural stem cells.
Petra S. Hüppi is since 1989 involved in MR-research. Currently being the Head of the Child Development Unit at the University of Geneva - Switzerland, she leads research in advanced MRI techniques and neuro-developmental assessment to look at the effects of intra-uterine growth restriction on structural and functional development of the brain.
Research interests are focused on early human brain development. In particularly, the study of normal and altered brain development in high-risk neonate and in animal models of brain injury.
Neuroplasticity, cellular mechanisms of learning and memory, brain mapping
I study neuronal mechanisms of learning and memory and involvement of inhibitory neurotransmission in learning-induced cortical plasticity. My lab has developed a model of learning-dependent plastic modification of cortical representation of vibrissae in mice in which we observed increased synthesis of GABA within the changed cortical representation. In this representation, we found a reduction of tonic GABA currents, which in turn causes enhanced synaptic inhibitory influence on excitatory neurons. We observed increase in frequency of IPSPs and rapid inhibitory synaptogenesis. We are now investigation reorganization of inhibitory interactions within the plastic region of cortex. I am also involved in investigations of brain plasticity after stroke ? we demonstrated spatial and temporal remodeling of the brain induced by cortical stroke, leading to vicariation of function. With the same model of stroke we investigated the hypothesis stating that stroke creates conditions that facilitates plasticity. We recently showed that following a cortical stroke, experience-dependent plasticity in neighboring cortex is not increased, but shows a pronounced depression, which can be alleviated by blocking the inflammatory reaction.
Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften, Leipzig
Area of specialisation
Cognitive neuroscience (ERPs, fMRI)
Cognitive science and neuroscience
Interactions between language, rhythm and temporal processing in speech reception and production
Dynamic attention, synchronisation and communication
Executive attention and emotion
Corticostriatal and corticocerebellar systems and functions in clinical (stroke, Parkinson's) and linguistic subgroups
Applications of event-related potentials (ERPs), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Integration of neuroscience methods (EEG/fMRI; EEG/lesioning techniques)
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is a rapidly growing epidemic. Obesity has been identified as one of the main risks for this disease and increased intake of saturated fat and sugar increases the risk to develop Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Our first interest is to understand how nutrients affect the brain and how these changes mediate the overeating as observed in (most) obese people. Secondly, although peripheral actions of both fat and sugar will affect glucose metabolism, it does not explain why some obese individuals become diabetic and why others do not. We therefore focus on the effects of nutrients on the brain as an alternative route via which high caloric diets might mediate the development of diabetes.
We study these research questions with a translational approach using both diet-induced obese animals and human experimental studies. This translational approach is possible because of a close collaboration with the group of dr MJ Serlie (endocrinologist) and the group of Prof dr J Booij (Nuclear Medicine).
1) Within the brain several regions are involved in feeding regulation. We focus on both the hypothalamus, that responds to signals of hunger and satiety and generates the daily rhythm in feeding, and the cortico-limbic system which is involved in rewarding aspects of feeding and motivation to eat. We use different approaches to study the effects of diet composition on the brain and on feeding regulation. We use a) diets with a free-choice of saturated fat and a sugar solution in addition to normal nutritionally balanced chow, as a recognized efficient diet to induce overeating, obesity, insulin resistance and beta cell insufficiency; b) intracarotic catheter infusions to directly deliver nutrients to the brain, c) short term overfeeding studies in healthy volunteers and d) studies in obese subjects.
2) We have shown that animals consuming saturated fat and a sugar solution in addition to regular nutritionally balanced chow rapidly develop insulin resistance and glucose intolerance due to an insufficient insulin response, features preceding diabetes. These changes in glucose metabolism were not explained by obesity since animals consuming saturated fat in addition to chow did become obese but not glucose intolerant. We also showed specific alterations in several regions in the brain due to the diet, not only at the level of the hypothalamus but also in the striatum. To determine whether these alterations in brain are important for glucose metabolism we use both our animal models as well as human experimental studies to determine the role of these changes in glucose metabolism.
Neuroscience, Olfaction, signal transduction, electrophysiology, calcium imaging
My research deals with the elementary molecular and cellular bases of chemical communication in mammals and the mechanisms that control their complex repertoire of behaviour. Particular emphasis is placed on signal transduction cascades and ion channels that are controlled by secondary messenger molecules. This entails employing a broad spectrum of methods, ranging from the investigation of molecular, dynamic membrane processes in the olfactory system to hormone regulation in the endocrine system. Insights gained from this fascinating and extremely dynamic field are of importance not only for molecular sensory physiology, but they also have far-reaching consequences for the interlinking of neuroscience and immunology as well as endocrinology.
English information: please see the Institute's website
Behavioral and Neurocognitive Development across the Lifespan
Neuromodulation of Cognition
Neurocomputational and Formal Modeling of Lifespan Cognition
Ontogeny of Brain-Body-World Dynamics
Neuroeconomics and Aging
Biocultural Co-construction of Development
Signaling networks involving protein phosphatases in learning and memory formation
Epigenetic basis of cognitive functions and their pathologies
Mechanisms of interaction between genetic and epigenetic factors in behavior
Epigenetic inheritance of behavioral symptoms induced by early trauma across generations
NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Area of specialisation
The neurobiology of learning, with a particular emphasis on the function of cortico-hippocampal subregions.
My main interest is in understanding how the brain computes and processes information and how this results in cognitive behavior and experience. Throughout my scientific career I have focused my research on spatial navigation and memory. This is a fundamental cognitive function that we share with all animals. Most of my research has been performed in collaboration with my husband and long-term collaborator Edvard Moser. With the combination of advanced lesion, anatomical and recording techniques, our efforts have resulted in several important discoveries. The most spectacular finding was probably the discovery of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex. The entorhinal cortex is a gold mine for studies of neural computation. The discovery of grid cells was succeeded by identification of other functional cell types, including head direction cells, conjunctive cells and border cells and collectively the findings point to the entorhinal cortex as a hub for the brain network that makes us find our way. In combination with the place cells of the hippocampus, the entorhinal network provides a "coordinate system" for on-line measurement of distance and direction within given constellations of landmarks. The findings have attracted the interest of experimentalists and modelers throughout the world and my lab has been characterized as a Mecca for single unit studies of spatial navigation and memory. This is not only because of our attempts to understand spatial representation but also because spatial representation is becoming one of the first functions to be characterized at a mechanistic level in neuronal networks.
Psychoneurobiology, i.e., the integrative, interdisciplinary interface between psyche (emotions, stress, behaviour), neuronal correlates (cerebral energy metabolism, imaging, neurohumoral regulation) and biology (physical manifestations), in order to address questions at various levels of the overall organism in human-subject experimental approaches
Molecular and cellular neurobiology, neurophysiology
The brain’s connectivity determines our ability to perceive the world around us. This connectivity is largely defined by synapses. Synapses provide the basic means for neuronal communication through synaptic receptors and associated scaffold proteins, referred to as receptosome. Receptosome are relatively stable structures, but exchange of individual adaptor within receptosomes can occur on a short time scale and in a highly regulated manner, therefore providing fine-tuning, fast kinetics, and specificity to the receptor signaling. We propose that in the brain, receptosome dynamics are involved in the refinement of synaptic transmission, brain plasticity and neuronal network oscillation, which might be crucial for cognitive functions. Hence, understanding how receptor function is affected by the composition and dynamics of complexes is an essential biological concern that will offer the opportunity to exclusively target the therapeutically relevant signaling pathway of a given receptor.
Modelling of neural cells and circuits, focusing on unraveling the role of dendrites and dendritic computations in learning and memory.
Development of computational methods and tools for bioinformatics analysis of biological data, focusing on miRNAs and cancer diagnostics.
Systems biology approaches for understanding neural and gene functions.
Neuroplasticity of the motor system, neurobiology of learning and memory, genetic influences on brain structure and function, neurorehabilitation, modulation of brain function by non-invasive brain stimulation
Cell death and differentiation of brain cells
Cellular stress and stress proteins
Myelin-forming cells of the central nervous system (oligodendrocytes)
The functional role of the cytoskeleton
Protein deposits in cases of neurodegenerative disease
Investigation of electromagnetic correlates of emotional, cognitive and behavioural processes in people with psychological or neurological disorders. The goal is to understand brain function in abnormal psychological processes, and based on this understanding to find ways of changing those processes (rehabilitation, therapy) and to evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic measures.
My research interest is in the cognitive and neural organisation of language and memory. In particular, I am interested in the neurocognitive organization of signed languages and of spoken languages both with and without the mediation of hearing aids.
Computer Science and Cognitive Neuroscience: Cognitive Neuroinformatics
Development of biology-inspired intelligent and autonomous systems/agents/robots: Management of uncertain and vague knowledge; Reasoning; Integration of bottom up sensory and top down knowledge based information; Multi sensory information processing; Navigation and localization
Behavioural experiments on: Multi sensory information processing; Spatial navigation, exploration, representation of spatial environments; Attention, saccadic scene analysis
Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt am Main
Area of specialisation
My research activities focus on synapses, the points of contact and communication between neurons. The ability of synapses to change throughout the lifetime of the animal contributes to the ability to learn and remember. We are interested in how synapses are modified at the cellular and molecular level. We are also interested in how neuronal circuits change when synapses change their properties. We conduct all of our studies in the hippocampus, a structure known to be important for memory in both humans and animals. We use molecular biology, electrophysiology and imaging to address the questions detailed below.
A major focus of the lab concerns the cell biological mechanisms that govern modifications at individual synaptic sites. In particular, we are interested in the idea that dendritic protein synthesis and degradation may contribute to synaptic plasticity. We hypothesize that the protein composition of synapses undergoes continuous remodelling - as a result of local protein synthesis and degradation. The particular patterns of protein synthesis and degradation reflect the history of both the neuron and the synapse. Incoming activity patterns are decoded by the regulated synthesis and degradation of proteins, resulting in a change in synaptic efficacy.
The cross-talk between the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system, and the implications of this interaction to:
traumatic CNS injury, healthy brain plasticity, brain ageing, mental dysfunction, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
Area of specialisation
Developmental Psychology, Human Memory, Aging
As a developmental psychologist, I am interested in the development of human cognitive abilities across the lifespan, making use of experimental, neuroimaging, and multivariate methodologies to examine brain-behavior relationships. In my research on episodic memory (i.e. memory situated in time and place), I examine how the associative and strategic components of memory interact and regulate its functioning across different life periods. With the notion that cognitive development is embedded within environments and shaped by individuals' experiences, I'm also interested in understanding the way in which environmental factors, such as school entry and stress-related social disadvantage, may impact cognitive and brain development.
How does the brain pay attention? How do we sustain focus in face of distraction? What is the relationship between attention and consciousness? Can cognitive skills be improved through (intensive) training? What are the boundaries of human cognition?
Plasticity of the motor system
Recovery of motor function after stroke
NeuroImaging, including MRI, MR Spectroscopy and MEG
Neurophysiology, including EMG
Non-invasive Brain stimulation approaches including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
Max-Planck-Institut für Experimentelle Medizin, Göttingen
Area of specialisation
We're interested in the role of the ubiquitin proteasome system in the nervous system. We're focusing in particular on E3 ubiquitin ligases in the development of neurons. In addition, we are investigating how failure of these E3 ligases contributes to neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders.
We wish to understand how neural cells arise during development and how their proliferation and differentiation are controlled.
Our work focuses on the forming spinal cord and insights from these studies inform our investigations using pluripotent cells in culture.
Our approaches include tissue specific gain and loss of gene function experiments as well as genome-wide analyses and real-time imaging techniques in chick and mouse embryos and mouse and human pluripotent cells. Defects in neuroepithelial proliferation or differentiation have profound effects on the developing and adult nervous system, influencing generation and morphogenesis of neural structures as well as homeostatic mechanisms and trauma response in adult tissue.
The overall aim of our work is thus to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms that control the generation and differentiation state of neural cells, with a long-term goal to inform strategies for therapeutic treatment of neural injury and disease.