Cortical oscillations in animal models of schizophrenia
Contemporary views of schizophrenia regard cognitive dysfunction as the primary core deficit due to dysfunction of neuronal microcircuits. Brain oscillations are known to be critical for cognitive processes and their alterations in schizophrenic patients were proposed to significantly contribute to the neurocognitive impairments characteristic for this disease. This project examines the functioning of neuronal networks involved in cortical oscillations in neurodevelopmental animal models of schizophrenia in an attempt of finding a link between the structural changes and neurocognitive deficits. This work will increase our neuronal level understanding of the mechanisms of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia which will facilitate the development of new strategies for drug development.
Subcortical regulation of hippocampal oscillations, the effect of psychoactive drugs
The central focus of this project is the subcortical regulation of hippocampal function and is guided by the general hypothesis that the role of this regulation is to build dynamic associations between several limbic structures synchronized by oscillatory population activity. The general state and background activity of various brain structures determine how these structures will respond to different specific inputs and how they establish dynamic connections to perform complex functions. An important constituent of these states is the pattern of population activity including coherent oscillations in anatomically scattered structures which can establish functional networks during specific behaviors. Theta synchrony provides an excellent model to study these cooperations and the way in which they differ in specific behavioral states, such as waking exploration and REM sleep. The characteristic involvement of various neuromodulators also facilitates using this model to investigate the effect of psychoactive drugs on the level of neuronal ensembles and networks.
Oscillatory processes in cardiovascular control
Another model we use to study rhythmic synchronization among neural networks is the autonomic nervous system which is capable of generating different patterns of activity that control the response of the cardiovascular system to changes in the environment (e.g. chemoregulation, thermoregulation, etc.) and different behavioral states (e.g. defense reaction, eating, sleep, etc.). The guiding hypothesis in this research is that sympathetic rhythm is generated by multiple oscillators. Changes in the relationship between these oscillators are studied under different conditions of health and disease.