Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory

Cellular Neurophysiology

Donders-PLASTICITY-MEMORY-screen thema 3The main research interest of our group is the investigation of structural and functional (re)organization of cortical networks in the rodent somatosensory (barrel) cortex in health and disease.

The scaffold of proper structural and functional organization of the cortex and thus eventually its accurate performance while receiving, processing and sending information - is depending on the activity of a multitude of different transcription factors, growth factors and neuromodulators during brain development. Many neurological disorders and their related cortical dysfunctions can be linked with abnormal activity of one or more of these factors during critical periods of brain development. The links between brain development and cortical performance can be studied very well in the distinctively organized sensory systems and the respective primary sensory cortical areas.

We focus on the structural and functional organization of the neural networks in the rodent primary somatosensory cortex in terms of (i) improving our fundamental understanding of the somatosensory system and (ii) answering general questions about how altered gene expression or altered levels of neuromodulators (e.g. serotonin) can affect cortical network organization and consequently behavior.

To gain insight into the structural and functional properties of cortical networks we use electrophysiological and neuroanatomical in vitro approaches on network and single cell level, investigating (i) how specific neuron classes are structurally and functionally integrated in complex cortical circuits and (ii) how populations of neurons interact with each other. To reveal the functional properties we combine (paired) patch clamp recording with optical stimulation techniques (caged glutamate photolysis and optogenetics) and multi-electrode array (MEA) recordings. We investigate the structural aspect of cortical network organization by tracing studies and 3-dimensional single neuron reconstructions.

Name: Dirk Schubert
Telephone: 024-3615039
Fax: 024-3541435
Visiting address: Faculty of Science
Heyendaalseweg 135
6525 AJ Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Faculty of Science
P.O. Box 9010
6500 GL  Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key publications
  • Miceli, S., Negwer, M., van Eijs, F., Kalkhoven, C., van, L., I, Homberg, J., Schubert, D. (2013). High serotonin levels during brain development alter the structural input-output connectivity of neural networks in the rat somatosensory layer IV. Front Cell Neurosci. 7, 88
  • Kinast, K., Peeters, D., Kolk, S.M., Schubert, D., Homberg, J.R. (2013).
    Genetic and pharmacological manipulations of the serotonergic system in early life: neurodevelopmental underpinnings of autism-related behavior.
    Front Cell Neurosci. 7, 72
  • Schubert, R. Kötter, J.F. Staiger: Mapping functional connectivity in barrel-related columns reveals layer- and cell type-specific microcircuits; Brain Struc. Funct. 2007, 212: 107-11 D. Schubert, R. Kötter, H.J. Luhmann, J. F. Staiger: Morphology, electrophysiology and functional input connectivity of pyramidal neurons characterizes a genuine layer Va in the primary somatosensory cortex; Cereb.
    Cortex 2006 16:223-236


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Theme 3:
Plasticity and Memory

Research Group
Cellular Neurophysiology

Staff Scientist
Dr. D. Schubert

Group members

Marijn Maartens
Charl Linssen
Noortje van der Knaap

Technical Assistance
Jos Dederen