Dynamic interaction between neural circuits is necessary for many basic brain functions. For example, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are changes in these interactions. Regions comprising the hippocampal memory system, a network of brain regions subserving episodic memory is particularly vulnerable, as it is selectively showing early amyloid deposition in AD. Consistent with this evidence, fMRI during memory tasks revealed modulation of these networks in patients with clinical AD. It has been consequently suggested that early network alterations may serve as predictors of clinical decline and reversal of these alterations will serve as marker of positive response to treatment.
In my lab we seek to understand how systems-level dynamics give rise to various aspects of brain function and behavior in health and disease.
To advance these goals, we take advantage of whole-brain functional imaging in humans and animal models. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows us to measure activity in multiple brain systems simultaneously, and to look at dynamic interactions between regions of the brain. To manipulate well defined populations of neurons, we are using optogenetic techniques that enable cell-type specific optical control of electrical activity at a millisecond resolution. Combining optogenetic techniques with whole-brain fMRI (termed “opto-fMRI”), we study the mechanisms governing neural dynamics at the level of the microcircuit and across brain regions.
The lab is located at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and is affiliated with the Rappaport Institute and the Science and Engineering of Neural Systems group at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.