Kavli Institute for Neuroscience
Michael Higley‘s laboratory examines the structure and function of synapses in the mammalian neocortex and their contribution to complex circuit activity and behavior. Cortical activity is maintained by an intricate dance between excitatory glutamatergic pyramidal neurons and inhibitory GABAergic interneurons. A major challenge to understanding the role of inhibition is the incredible diversity of interneurons, with different subtypes defined by molecular, electrophysiological, and anatomical features corresponding to distinct functions. Recently, Michael’s lab has focused particularly on inhibition targeting pyramidal neuron dendrites, which influences both electrical and biochemical signaling in the postsynaptic cell. In their studies, they use electrophysiology, 2-photon imaging and transmitter photo-uncaging, optogenetics, and viral tracing to both reduced preparations and intact behaving animals. In this way, they hope to bridge the gaps between molecular, cellular, and systems neuroscience.