Cortical microcircuits

We want to understand how events at the synaptic and cellular levels are involved in behaviour. To reach this goal, we take a multidisciplinary approach in which we combine electrophysiological recordings and imaging from single neurons and networks of neurons with behaviour. By using molecular interventions, optogenetics and assessing the consequences at different levels of organization, we try to get an understanding of the causal relationships between activity of synapses, neurons, neuronal networks, and cognitive behavior. In collaboration with the Neurosurgery department at the VU medical centre, we study the function of human neuronal circuits to test whether basic principles discovered in rodents hold in human cortical microcircuits.

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Principal Investigators

Huib Mansvelder
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Glial (patho)physiology

We study the interactions between neurons and glial cells, both in the healthy brain and in the context of neurological diseases. In particular we focus on the white matter disease MLC, a disease characterized by dysfunctional astrocyte water and ion homeostasis leading to chronic white matter oedema. Our team is embedded in both the VU University medical center (Department of Childhood Neurology headed by Prof. Marjo van der Knaap) and the CNCR (Department of Integrative Neurophysiology headed by Prof. Huibert Mansvelder).

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Principal Investigators

Rogier Min
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In Vivo Neurophysiology

We study how individual cortical neurons encode sensory stimuli and how sensory representation is affected by behavior. The rodent barrel cortex is an excellent system to study these questions since the individual sensory organs (facial whiskers) are represented by easily identifiable cortical columns. Additionally, our group is part of an international effort to understand human brain function at (sub)cellular resolution.

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Principal Investigators

Christiaan de Kock
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Neural circuits of drive

We study how behavioural drives, like feeding, are regulated by hypothalamic and cortical neurons. The lateral hypothalamus is a key controller of feeding and other motivated behaviours. We recently discovered that it does not contain synaptically connected microcircuits, which are ubiquitous in the cortex. On the other hand, key parts of the cortex send input to the lateral hypothalamus. We study these neural pathways with slice electrophysiology and in vivo calcium imaging.

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Principal Investigators

Huib Mansvelder
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Neurons of human cognition

The main focus of my research is unravelling the cellular basis of human cognition. Traditionally the research on neurobiology of human intelligence focuses on either studying genetic variants associated with intelligence GWAS or imaging of brain areas of intelligence. My ambition is to link these two approaches by studying the function and gene expression in human neurons from neurosurgery in relation to cognition.

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Principal Investigators

Natalia Goriounova
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Sleep and Cognition

The Sleep & Cognition group of Eus van Someren and Ysbrand van der Werf works at several locations, including their home base of Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (KNAW), the VU University (FALW-Integrative Neurophysiology), the VUmc (Dept. Anatomy and Neurosciences) and the Leiden University Medical Center (Sleep Center Leiden). Against the background of their 24-hour rhythm, driven by the circadian clock of the brain, sleep and wakefulness show a mutual dependency.

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Other leadership

Eus van Someren
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Vision & Cognition

The Vision and Cognition group is led by Pieter Roelfsema, also director of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience. Research of this group is directed at understanding cortical mechanisms of visual perception, memory and plasticity. One of our goals is to create a visual cortical prosthesis to restore vision in blind people.

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Other leadership

Pieter Roelfsema
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