Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience
Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Cliff Kentros‘ laboratory combines molecular genetic techniques with neurophysiological recordings to investigate the neural circuitry underlying learning and memory. Understanding electronic circuits requires manipulating one specific circuit element while recording from other specific circuit elements. Fully understanding neural circuits therefore requires manipulating specific circuit elements while recording the resulting changes in connected cell types. Recent advances in molecular tools give electrophysiologists the requisite anatomical specificity to go beyond observational studies of neuronal firing patterns towards directly observing the results of manipulating the functional circuitry of the CNS in real time. Towards this end, the Kentros laboratory combines molecular genetic and viral tools with in vivo recordings from awake, behaving rodents to analyze the functional circuitry underlying learning and memory. The incredible diversity of neuronal cell types has led us to adapt the genomic tools developed to study transcriptional control elements to generate ever more specific transgenic and viral tools, an approach we call Enhancer-Driven Gene Expression. Since such EDGE viruses can conceivably work in any species, this approach may ultimately lead not only to novel research tools, but to novel therapeutic avenues.