Neurocognition

Neurocognition

We have an overarching research interest in neuronal integration and the function of neuronal networks in the intact brain using state-of-the-art techniques. We also have a strong track record of investigating basic mechanisms of epilepsy in animal models and tissue obtained from epilepsy surgery. In our pathophysiological projects, we have also made advances in understanding the mechanisms underlying pharmacoresistance to anticonvulsant drugs, and how to overcome them. This puts us in a unique position to quantitatively understand drug actions in complex animal and human brain structures.

In our scientific projects, the group examines neuronal input-output integration using high-resolution state-of-the-art techniques including somatodendritic patch-clamp recordings, multiphoton glutamate uncaging and multiphoton imaging to precisely understand the principles of neuronal excitatory signal integration, and how it is controlled by inhibition. Our knowledge of these principles in different types of neurons in the normal brain has now led to a number of studies investigating changes in integration in CNS disorders, such as epilepsy. We are also actively pursuing how CNS drugs act on dendritic integration, a topic about which almost nothing is known.

On the level of neuronal motifs, we have used in vivo and in vitro physiology coupled with optogenetics to understand the functional anatomy of cortical circuits. We are also addressing quantitative changes in the function of canonical hippocampal microcircuits in chronic epilepsy models, and have begun to address how CNS drugs act at the microcircuit level.

Finally, our desire to understand the function of cortical circuits in behaving animals has led us to establish in vivo patch-clamp and imaging techniques in awake animals. Such approaches combined with the manipulation of different inhibitory, excitatory and modulatory neuron types will yield novel insights into how hippocampal circuitry is used and regulated in vivo.

Research Consortia

  • Program Chair SFB 1089 ‘Synaptic Micro Networks in Health and Disease’ of the German Research Foundation, 2013-2021.
  • EU Integrated Project LSH-CT-2006-037315. Pharmacogenetics of Refractory Epilepsy, Mechanisms of Drug Resistance and New Therapeutic Strategies. H. Beck, PI.
  • German-French Collaborative Projects of ANR/DFG, with R. Cossart, Marseille, BE 1822/6-1, ebGLUNet: Network Function of Early-born Glutamatergic Neurons, 2013-2016.
  • ERA-NET Neuron ‘DeCipher ‘Deciphering hyperexcitable networks associated with neurodevelopmental lesions’. Speaker Professor A. Becker.
  • German Research Foundation Research Group ‘Epileptogenesis of Genetic Epilepsies’ Tübingen-Bonn, Germany.