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 and dopaminergic neurons, the progressive loss of which cell types has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease demenetia.
Cholinergic neurons have been associated with learning and other cognitive functions; however, their activity during behavior has not been explored until recently. 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.
Cognitive functions are jointly controlled by different neuromodulatory systems, including cholinergic, dopaminergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic neurons. We are investigating these major neuromodulatory systems to better understand the division of labor that underlies cognitive functions like learning, attention and decision making.
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 European Research Council, the Eotvos Lorand Research Network, the National Research, Development and Innovation Office, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry for Innovation and Technology.