Our goal is to understand how circuits of the hippocampal region, a critical area for memory formation, are established during development
While several studies have addressed the development of cortical circuits in different neocortical regions, the circuits of the hippocampal region have received less attention. With our research we aim to investigate the mechanisms guiding the maturation of the hippocampal-entorhinal circuit. We hope to provide fundamental insights into the role played by different cell types in the development of this region, both in physiological as well as pathophysiological conditions.
Quattrocolo’s interest in the mechanisms guiding the maturation of neurons and circuits started during her master thesis, in which she investigated the developmental expression of different sodium currents in stellate cells of the medial Entorhinal Cortex.
Later on, during her Ph.D. studies, she became fascinated by a peculiar cell type, Cajal-Retzius cells. Even though these cells have been identified more than a century ago by Ramon y Cajal, one of the founding fathers of Neuroscience, little is still known about them. Cajal-Retzius cells have been identified as a prenatal source of Reelin, a protein fundamental for the formation of cortical layers. While neocortical Cajal-Retzius cells die soon after birth, hippocampal Cajal-Retzius cells survive for many months after birth in mice, or years, in humans. The big question is: what is the role of these cells in the postnatal hippocampus?
Quattrocolo started investigating these cells by identifying the sources of their synaptic input as well as postsynaptic target, by performing in vitro physiology and using a combination of paired recordings and optogenetic manipulation. She is now interested in understanding what role they play in the maturation of hippocampal function, and combining histological, molecular and physiological techniques.
The Quattrocolo group is pursuing this quest in investigating the role of hippocampal Cajal-Retzius cells. In addition, they are also determined to reach a better understanding on the specific influence played by different cell types in the establishment of neuronal circuits in different areas of the hippocampal formation, such as the lateral and medial Entorhinal Cortex.