Theoretical Neurobiology of Cortical Circuits

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Spontaneous dynamics in local cortical networks


We study the network dynamics that emerge when large number of biophysical neurons are connected through excitatory and inhibitory synapses. We focus on the rhythms that emerge in vivo and in slices in vitro during slow oscillatory activity, in collaboration with the experimental laboratories of Maria V. Sanchez-Vives and Jaime de la Rocha. We have built a biophysical network of the cortical microcircuit that is able to reproduce the main physiological fingerprints of slow oscillations, fast oscillations and activity propagation in the in vitro preparation (see the publication). This model is now useful in order to understand how different cortical areas differ in terms of the mechanisms that subserve the regionally-specific activity patterns observed experimentally (see here), or how rhythms at different time scales are generated in the network (see here).

Network mechanisms underlying cognitive operations in the cerebral cortex


We study how local microcircuits at various levels of the cortical hierarchy interact in the course of cognitive tasks such as working memory and selective attention. We have formulated explicit biophysical networks that reproduce the most salient electrophysiological observations in cortical neurons during working memory and selective attention tasks. Our models thus provide plausible links between the synaptic and cellular mechanisms of cortical multi-area networks and these specific cognitive functions. We relate our findings both to electrophysiological data from awake behaving monkeys and to human neuroimaging data.

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