Laboratory of Neuronal Excitability
Practically all neurological disorders can be associated with changes in excitability of more or less well defined neuronal cell populations. Such physiological changes can be manifested on circuit, cellular, or subcellular level, and ultimately give rise to adverse behavioral symptoms in patients and disease models.
However, subtle pathological changes may secondarily give rise to other changes within a neural circuit, and these may in effect be malign or benign. Often it is not known whether an observed physiological change represents disease cause or symptom, and where in the etiological process it fits in.
Our goal is to understand the factors that influence neuronal excitability in health and disease settings, for example in epilepsy, which is characterized by excitatory hyperexcitability. These factors include cellular properties, such as those of the neuronal cell membrane and of individual dendrites and synapses, as well as extracellular ones, such as the molecular milieu around the neuron, which is in large part regulated by astrocytes. To meet this goal, we apply an array of investigative techniques in experimental models of neurological disorders.
This research will contribute to a better understanding of the basic physiology of the brain, how neuronal signaling goes awry in disease, and ultimately how neuronal pathophysiology can be corrected.
Our work relies primarily on electrophysiology and fluorescence imaging approaches in live tissue. Among the core techniques in our toolbox are electrophysiological whole-cell patch-clamp and field recordings, 2-photon imaging, STED microscopy, and optogenetics.