Marco Capogna

Amygdala-hippocampal-cortical circuits in health and disease

The overarching aim of the research activities is to define the neuronal circuits of the human and rodent cerebral cortex and connected subcortical areas, as they are cellular regulators of cognitive process in health and disease. We wish to define what neuronal circuitry guides emotional-dependent learning and memory, and how it is modified in animal models of fear and anxiety disorders.

To achieve this goal we investigate the structure and the function of various neuron types in the rodent amygdala, hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Major focus is on GABAergic neuron types because of their critical role in controlling circuits activity and because of their diversity. We also investigate the structure, function, communication and responses to drugs of neurons in the human cerebral cortex, the largest and most frequently affected brain area in disease.

My research group uses an integrated approach combining electrophysiology, neuropharmacology, optogenetic, cellular imaging and high resolution anatomy. Understanding the neural mechanisms controlling cortex-hippocampal-amygdala network activity may eventually lead to novel therapeutic strategies to reverse or ameliorate psychiatric disorders.

Neurogliaform cell in the rodent hippocampus.

Neurogliaform cell in the rodent hippocampus: (a) Unitary inhibitory postsynaptic current (IPSC) recorded in a neurogliaform neuron (lower traces) and evoked by activation of a presynaptic neurogliaform cell (upper trace).(b) Left: reconstruction of a neurogliaform cell (soma and dendrites, red; axon, green) and postsynaptic pyramidal cell (black) of the hippocampus. Right: voltage-clamp recording between the neurogliaform cell and the CA1 pyramidal cell pair shown on the left. Presynaptic action current evokes slow IPSC blocked by gabazine.(c) Left: reconstruction of a neurogliaform cell in the stratum lacunosum area CA1 of hippocampus (soma and dendrites, red; axon, green). Right: firing patterns of an identified hippocampal neurogliaform cell (bottom trace) during spontaneous network oscillations (upper three traces).Theta phase firing probability histogram showing phase-locking of the firing to two theya cycles.

Video: Shedding light on Hippocampus-amygdala communication

Video: THX-31 Large intercalated neuron rat amygdala - Neurolucidal reconstruction