One of the major goals of neuroscience is to understand how brain function emerges through the assembly of specific neuronal circuits. This is particularly challenging for the cerebral cortex, where dozens, perhaps hundreds of different classes of neurons converge during development to establish specific microcircuits.

From a reductionistic perspective, complex brain circuitries such as those present in the cerebral cortex have evolved as hierarchical networks of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. In particular, excitatory glutamatergic pyramidal cells and inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid-containing (GABAergic) interneurons constitute the main cellular elements of each of the individual modules or microcircuits of the cerebral cortex.

The balance between excitation and inhibition is crucial for cortical function, and so disruption of this dynamic equilibrium leads to disease. Severe alterations of the excitatory-inhibitory balance cause epilepsy, but recent studies in humans and in animal models indicate that subtle perturbations may also exist in multiple psychiatric conditions.  

We aim to understand the logic behind the assembly of cortical circuits.  To this end, we are trying to decipher the general principles underlying the development of these circuits, with a focus on the mechanisms controlling the migration, final allocation and connectivity of cortical interneurons. To this end, we are taking a multidisciplinary approach that combines mouse genetics, cutting-edge imaging techniques, and conventional cellular, molecular and electrophysiological methodologies. 

We believe that unraveling the mechanisms that regulate development of cortical interneurons and their integration into functional circuits is essential for understanding and, eventually treating, major psychiatric disorders.

Neuron Voices - Organizing Brain Science on an International Scale »