We aim to determine the principles of operation of subcortical neuronal networks and their interaction with neuromodulatory systems using a variety of techniques that include ultrastructural anatomy, neuronal tracing, in vitro slice recordings, in vivo juxtacellular and high-density electrophysiological recordings, optogenetics, pharmacogenetics and behavior.

We aim to understand the principles of operation of neuromodulatory systems in health and disease, and their effects upon cortical and subcortical targets at the cellular, circuit and behavioral levels.

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Our approaches range from the molecular level to behavior. We study individual neurons to identify their molecular markers, discharge properties and connectivity, and reveal how they are integrated in their local networks. We also identify how local networks are conformed in terms of their neurochemical composition (immunohistochemistry, stereology) and physiological properties (local field potentials). We are interested in cell-type specific connectivity for which we use correlated confocal and electron microscopy. 


Our techniques


The juxtacellular method allows recording individual neurons and subsequently labeling them in the intact brain. This allows to obtain the precise anatomical location of the recorded neurons and the identification of their molecular markers by means of immunohistochemistry or genetic tagging. By combining this recording/labeling method with optogenetics, we are able to manipulate specific inputs to individual neurons and characterize the dynamics of their modulation in a precise temporal scale. Furthermore, by labeling the recorded neurons in vivo, we are able to preserve and trace their entire axons and characterize their connectivity at the synaptic level. Thus, our experimental approach allows the integration of the input/output systems of neurochemically-defined types of neurons.

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