Institute of Neurobiology of the Mediterranean
Our lab is part of the Institute of Mediterranean Neurobiology (INMED), an INSERM research Center located in the Luminy campus of Aix-Marseille University. INMED gathers 11 independent research groups that study the development of cortical synapses and circuits and their plasticity in health and disease.
Our lab studies the functional organization of the hippocampus, a brain region supporting memory and encoding spatial and temporal information. We have recently uncovered the spatial organization and lifetime of the basic hippocampal functional units (assemblies) in CA1. These hippocampal assemblies are anatomically intermingled, but functionally orthogonal and associated with the occurrence of sharp-wave ripples as well as temporally ordered reactivation events (Malvache et al; Science 2016). Such assemblies represent default building blocks that can be reused and combined to encode or retrieve spatio-temporal information. Indeed, during run, hippocampal dynamics self-organize into recurring sequences that bind together these assemblies in separate segments and integrate spatio-temporal information (Villette et al. Neuron 2015). A binding of these assemblies into longer chains also reveals temporally ordered replay. We now want to know the role of local and long-range circuits in shaping these hippocampal building blocks and to test whether they are sculpted by early developmental programs.
To describe structure-function relationships in hippocampal networks, we have developed a multidisciplinary approach that combines in vitro and in vivo calcium imaging, patterned light stimulation, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, mathematics, mouse genetics and behavior.