Assembly of Neural Circuits & Brain Disorders

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The Rico lab’s research is focused into how specific neural networks are assembled and organised during brain development

Neuronal circuitries underlying the function of the mammalian cerebral cortex collectively constitute one of the most complex biological systems. As such, unravelling the mechanisms that control their development represents one of the most challenging questions in science. Understanding this process is also an imperative need in biomedicine, because abnormal wiring is thought to cause severe neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia.

Our goal in the lab is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the development and maturation of neural networks in health and disease.

Beatriz Rico, PhD

All my scientific life, I have been interested in understanding how the connections in the brain were made, why is it much easier to learn a motor skill or a language early in life? What happens when any of these precise steps fail during development causing neurodevelopmental disorders? We need to understand first how the brain works for a better design of therapeutical targets and therefore scientific knowledge is the best tool we have to progress and fight any threats.

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In our day life, animal behaviour relies in a very precise connectivity between neurons in the brain that can be modulated by experience. In the mammalian cortex these connections reach an extraordinary complexity. How are these cortical circuits built? How do they respond to activity and what happens when they fail during development causing neurodevelopmental disorders such as: autism, intellectual disability, schizophrenia and epilepsy are questions that we are currently addressing in the lab.

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