Stelios M. Smirnakis
We study principles of neural circuit function and malfunction in neurological disease states. Tools used range from in vivo 2-photon imaging, optogenetics, classical electrophysiology, to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Active projects include:
1. Dissecting the Fabric of Multi-Neuronal Computations in Neocortex: Apply network analysis methods to understand how multi-neuronal assemblies coordinate to implement "canonical" computations and represent information reliably/robustly in mouse visual cortex. We focus on understanding how information is processed along the cortical column to get transmitted to "higher" areas, or to "lower" areas as feedback.
2. Mechanisms of Circuit Malfunction in Epilepsy, Autism, and Stroke. Research topics include: 1) Structural and functional plasticity during motor learning in the MECP2-duplication model of autism, 2) Reliability of sensory (visual) encoding in the MECP2-duplication model of autism, 3) Characterize how cortical cell types engage in abnormal EEG patterns and the role they play in the generation/propagation of epileptiform activity in i) the Stargazer Model of Absence Epilepsy, ii) the Tetanus toxin model of chronic epilepsy, and iii) the 4-AP model of acute ictogenesis. We recently started a collaborative project aiming to optimize cortical circuit repair via stem cell injections in a mouse model of stroke.
3. Dissecting causally how Dendritic Arbor Inputs Shape Neuronal Properties. We use two-photon laser ablation methods to micro-dissect dendritic branches of pyramidal neurons in vivo, in mouse primary visual cortex. The neurons survive post ablation, allowing us to study how controlled dendritic pruning affects their properties.
4. Mapping Human Visual System Reorganization after Injury; Devising a Rational Strategy for Rehabilitating Visual Perception. We use fMRI population receptive-field-mapping, cortico-cortical receptive-field-mapping and functional connectivity analysis to study the properties of surviving visual circuits following injury, and how they relate to residual visual perception. Select patients undergo visual-motion perception rehabilitative training followed by fMRI-imaging to investigate mechanisms of recovery.
Building for Transformative Medicine, Room 11122
60 Fenwood Road
Boston, MA 02115