We are interested in the neural basis of cognitive functions both in the normal and diseased brain. We are investigating how different neuron types of subcortical centers mediate cognitive processes such as attention, learning and memory.
Dementias affect more than 30 million people worldwide, with an estimated yearly cost burden exceeding US$600 billion. Despite intensive basic and clinical research, a definitive solution is not in sight. To facilitate a better understanding of normal cognition as well as pathological processes, we are monitoring cholinergic neurons of the basal forebrain, the progressive loss of which cell type has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative dementias.
Cholinergic neurons have been associated with learning and other cognitive functions; however, their activity during behavior is unknown. Understanding how the activity of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons support learning as well as how their impairment leads to learning deficits can help understanding their role in neurodegenerative dementias.
Intermingled with cholinergic neurons, the basal forebrain also contains cortically projecting long-range inhibitory neurons. To understand how the basal forebrain supports cognition, it is important to determine how cognitive functions associated with the basal forebrain are segregated among different cell types.
To achieve these goals, we use a combination of cutting edge neuroscience techniques including high-throughput behavioral assays in rodents, multichannel extracellular recordings, optogenetic cell type identification and cell type specific manipulations.
We are funded by the Lendulet Program of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the ERC Starting Grant of the European Commission.