The Department of Biomedicine

BBB seminar: Clifford Kentros

Transgenic investigation of the neural circuitry of memory

Main content

Clifford Kentros
Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim

The mammalian brain is arguably the most complex structure known, with innumerable cell types connected to each other in a myriad of ways to sub-serve behavior. Understanding the functional circuitry of the brain ultimately requires the ability to manipulate its component parts at the same level of complexity, i.e. one cell type at a time. The only way to obtain tools capable of operating at this level of specificity is to co-opt the genome's own machinery via a transgenic approach.

The Kentros lab at Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience combines molecular genetic techniques with in vivo electrophysiology to investigate how the brain creates, stores, and retrieves internal representations of past experience (i.e. memories). More specifically, we cross "driver" mice that drive transgene expression in particular subsets of neurons in limbic cortices with "payload" mice (or viruses) expressing distinct transgenes that allow us to determine connectivity or manipulate the activity of particular neuronal cell types. We then record the effects of these network manipulations on the spatial firing patterns of neurons in the hippocampus and parahippocampal areas. These data allow us to empirically evaluate models of how entorhinal "grid" cells might (or might not) make hippocampal "place" cells, leading to a better understanding of how spatial experience is generated and stored in the brain.

Chairperson: Boleslaw Srebro, Department of Biomedicine