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MPTP induced Pakinson model

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative condition; characterized with the degeneration of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway and neuroinflammation. 

Thalamus and Stress

Research group: Thalamus Research

In this project we study the role of thalamus in stress induced behavioral alterations.


Schizophrenia is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 0.5%–1% of the global population and is 1 of the top 10 global causes of disability.  Like most mental disorders, schizophrenia appears to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and social risk factors linked to each other by epigenetic mechanisms regulating gene expression levels and molecular pathways. . Although the pathophysiology of schizophrenia is still not completely understood, there is a growing awareness that dysregulation of immune system components is fundamentally linked to the disorder.  

Population coding of behavioral events in the median raphe circuit

Coding by transiently emerging co-active ensembles of neurons has long been a central tenet of neuroscience formulated in the influential assembly hypothesis. Accordingly, the animal’s actions can be predicted much more efficiently from the coordinated activity pattern of neurons than from the stimulus or event-locked spiking of single units. In contrast to cortical and hippocampal networks, assembly coding in subcortical modulatory circuits is almost fully unexplored. In this project, we aim to reveal and characterize the assembly code in the median raphe (MR), the source of ascending serotonergic neuromodulation of the limbic system. We expect to identify a fundamentally novel mode of neuromodulation whereby adaptive behavioral responses are controlled by the correlated activity of modulatory neuronal assemblies.

Research: completed projects

Research group: Cellular Neuropharmacology

…about the cellular interface between DG and CA3 regions

Development of methodology for cell-type-specific nanoscale molecular imaging in brain circuits

Development of methodology for cell-type-specific nanoscale molecular imaging in brain circuits

Mechanisms underlying tissue hypothyroidism in the brain during thyroxine substitution therapy

Research group: Molecular Cell Metabolism


Major depression

Depression - diagnosed as a condition lasting at least 2 weeks, with lethargy and/or loss of pleasure as the leading symptoms - is the most common psychiatric disorder in the world.

Revealing the cellular and synaptic mechanisms underlying the diverse firing properties of hippocampal pyramidal cells during behavior.

Research group: Cellular Neurophysiology

In vivo two-photon [Ca2+] imaging are performed in head-restrained mice while performing navigation in virtual reality to functionally characterize distinct pyramidal cells. This is followed by post hoc in vitro electrophysiological and anatomical experiments to reveal differences in intrinsic properties and synaptic innervation of the functionally characterized nerve cells.

Non-canonical forms of cannabinoid signaling

Non-canonical forms of cannabinoid signaling

Two-photon uncaging

High efficiency two-photon uncaging coupled by the correction of spontaneous hydrolysis

Autism spectrum disorder

ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental condition caused by interactions of environmental and genetic factors. Recently, maternal viral infections during pregnancy and their immunological consequences have received particular interest in research as risk factors for neurodevelopmental disorders. 

The reward system and the medial prefrontal cortex

Investigating neural circuits that control reward learning is crucial if we want to understand healthy behavior or disorders like addiction.

Representation of fearful information in the hippocampus

Throughout life animals inevitably encounter unforeseen threatening events. Activity of principal cells in the hippocampus is tuned for locations and for salient stimuli in the animals’ environment thus, forming a map known to be pivotal for guiding behavior. Here, we investigate if a code corresponding to threatening stimuli exists in the CA1 region of the dorsal hippocampus.

Synaptic cannabinoid signaling

With our research activity we aim to contribute to the understanding of how distinct endocannabinoid-related signaling pathways regulate certain forms of synaptic plasticity.

Creating a molecular map of the neuronal surface

Research group: Cellular Neurophysiology

Determining the location and density of various voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels in defined subcellular compartments of hippocampal pyramidal cells, using quantitative LM and EM immunolocalization. Perform multi-compartmental modeling to generate functionally testable predictions of the functional consequences of specialized ion channel distributions. In vitro electrophysiology and imaging approaches are used to test the functional predictions of our models.

Local connectivity of excitatory projection neurons in the basolateral amygdala

Basolateral amygdala is a complex cortical structure composed of three nuclei: lateral, basal and basomedial nucleus.

Hippocampal oscillation beyond theta rhythm

The medial septum modulates hippocampal oscillations beyond the theta rhythm

In vivo network imaging

Fast two-photon in vivo imaging with three-dimensional random-access scanning in large tissue volumes

In vitro measurement of spontaneous neuronal network activity

In vitro measurement of spontaneous neuronal network activity

Effect of endocrine disruptors on thyroid hormone homeostasis

Research group: Molecular Cell Metabolism


Altering the hippocampal code by rapid modulation of inhibition

In 2009 we described a novel form of modulation in the median raphe – hippocampus connection capable of selectively and rapidly recruiting a subset of inhibitory neurons. The function of this highly efficient form of modulation in shaping hippocampal representations is still unknown. In this project, we aim to unravel how the emergence and reorganization of hippocampal coding patterns linked to salient event is influenced by raphe-hippocampal rapid modulation.

Development of thyroid hormone gradients in the nervous system

Research group: Molecular Cell Metabolism


Cortical control of subcortical modulation

Subcortical modulation is an indispensable component of cortical function, and ultimately, is key for adaptive behavioral responses. Therefore, disruption of subcortical modulation leads to debilitating psychiatric conditions. A key but largely ignored area of research concerns the control of subcortical modulation by cortical feedback. In this project we explore how the top-down control of the median raphe by the prefrontal cortex controls memory-guided behaviors. Our hope is to identify a missing link in the process that leads from normal subcortical function to pathological cortical operation.

Connections of the amygdala

The amygdala is a central element of the brain’s emotional network, but there are a lot of unresolved questions around this brain region.

Thalamus and Cortex

Research group: Thalamus Research

In this project we study the diversity of interactions between cortex and thalamus.

Cortex-wide activation of VIP-expressing inhibitory neurons by reward and punishment

Cortex- wide activation of VIP- expressing inhibitory neurons by reward and punishment

Restoration of visual perception by 3D artifical photostimulation

Restoration of visual perception by 3D artifical photostimulation

Research: current project

Research group: Cellular Neuropharmacology

…about the roles of small axons, whose size matches that of the majority cortical axons


3D two-photon imaging

Fast, two- photon imaging with three-dimensional scanning of spine, dendritic and neuronal assemblies in behaving animals

Microcircuit organization of the perisomatic inhibition in the medial prefrontal cortex

Prefrontal cortex plays a role in many higher order cognitive processes. 

Regulation of arousal level by midline thalamic and prefrontal cortical connections

The midline thalamus has a key role in the regulation of working memory, cognitive processing and sleep-wake transition, as well as in controlling cortical oscillations.

A novel midbrain-extended amygdala pathway controls defensive behavior

A novel research direction of our team is to unravel the circuit mechanisms underlying defensive behavior. 

Revealing the molecular, structural and functional heterogeneity of cortical synapses

Research group: Cellular Neurophysiology

Determine the molecular specializations underlying the functional diversity of synapses, such as the probability and short-term plasticity of neurotransmitter release. In vitro electrophysiology, two-photon imaging, LM and EM immunolocalization are combined to address these issues.

Thalamus and Motor Behavior

Research group: Thalamus Research

In this project we study the role of thalamus in motor learning.

Research: Collaborations

Research group: Cellular Neuropharmacology

...about our contributions to the projects of other research groups

Human Thalamus

Research group: Thalamus Research

In this project, we study the synaptic organization of the human thalamus.


Active research and clinical experience have shown that the uncontrolled immune response to Sars-Cov-2 is characterized in many cases by a devastating cytokine storm (Chaolin Huang 2020). Morbidity and mortality are in part a consequence of this inflammatory response in the body (Ye Q 2020). The course of the disease is known to be more severe in pregnant women (Kathryn M Moore 2021), however, the effect of SARS-CoV-2 on the developing fetus is currently unclear. Case studies show that vertical transmission is rare, however, several studies support that placental and fetal infections may occur (Chen H 2020), (Dong L 2020), (Patanè L 2020). Several clinical manifestations of Covid-19 infection in the nervous system have also been reported recently (Desforges M. 2020), (Bohmwald K. 2018). 

Mania model

Purinergic dysfunction are involved in the pathological process of mania and depression, but the essential association is not fully understood. The activation of the purinergic P2X7 receptor (P2X7R) plays a central role in inflammation, microglia activation and IL-1β release and activates NLRP3 inflammasome. We investigated whether the d-amphetamine (AMPH) has an inflammatory profile, and the P2X7R has an effect via IL-1β in this model.

Pavlovian conditioning task

In vivo examination of age-dependent changes in the activity of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons during a Pavlovian conditioning task