During the development of the nervous system, millions of neurons are generated in specific regions, from where they migrate to populate different areas of the brain. Once neurons are in their final position, they start to communicate with each other through synapses, establishing neuronal circuits. Studies on cortical development have showed that specific cell types (such as Cajal-Retzius cells and subplate neurons) and specific circuits are critical for this early period of network maturation, and that their perturbation leads to long-lasting deficits. However, a similar in-depth analysis of the development of the hippocampal circuit formation is still lacking.
Our ultimate goal is to understand the role played by different cell types in the formation of cortical circuits in physiological as well as pathophysiological conditions. In fact, alterations in the mechanisms guiding the differentiation and migration of neurons as well as synaptogenesis can lead to severe network malfunctions and to debilitating neurodevelopmental disorders.
We use a combination of techniques to answer our research questions, spanning from anatomical tracing and immunohistochemistry to molecular biology and transcriptomics, from in vitro patch-clamp physiology to in vivo extacellular recordings from freely moving animals. Transgenic animals together with viral vectors are used to label and manipulate specific cell populations.