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- Research Expertise:Our research activity is focused on the study of neuronal ensembles (dynamic) properties and their emergence from single-neuron response properties, characterised by cellular electrophysiology, mathematical models and (super)computer simulations. This involves the design and use of novel experimental protocols, inspired by theoretical frameworks (e.g. mean-field descriptions of networks of spiking model neurons). I am daily supervising both experimental and theoretical investigations, involving multi-site electrode arrays and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings in both acute cortical rat brain slices and dissociated cell cultures. Stationary and dynamical electrical response properties of neurons are investigated by a novel approach, which is mimicking the in vivo-like conditions cortical neurons experience in the intact cortex of behaving mammals (current-clamp / dynamic-clamp / reactive-clamp). Complementing technological tools for such research consist in the coupling of in vitro neuronal networks (i.e. both slices and cell cultures) to arrays of microfabricated microelectrodes (MEAs) for non-invasive extracellular electrical stimulation and long-term recording, combined to whole-cell patch-clamp recording. I have been also devoting some time to the prototypical development of an innovative integrated photo-activation device for selective spatio-temporal uncaging, channel-rhodopsin photo-activation and targeted cell-populations bleaching, employing Digital MicroMirrors Devices, the same components at the core of beam projectors. Another area of interest is Neuroscience Nanotechnologies in investigating properties and consequences, at the single-cell and population-level, of coupling cortical neuronal networks to carbon-based nanoparticle, materials and conductive substrates (e.g., nanotubes, CNTs, cristalline nanodiamond). In the context of a EC-project consortium “NEURONANO”, we showed interesting properties of the interaction between these nanomaterials and neurons, potentially relevant for smart materials of future neuroprosthetics.
- Keywords:NEUROCULTURE, NEURONS, EXPERIMENTAL STUDY, NEOCORTEX, THEORETICAL STUDY, Biomedical sciences (incl. biochemistry)
- Research techniques:We are skilled in cellular electrophysiology and neurobiology, in Optogenetics, and in Computational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering.
- Users of research expertise:Researchers interested in complementarity of techniques, searching to complement by physiological methods their starting background and willing to build mathematical models of the biosystems they study.