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Cellular and Computational Neuroscience

Group leader prof. Helmut Kessels

The ‘Cellular and Computational Neuroscience group has organised its research around a few well-defined topics in the realm of neuronal excitability, a prominent property of the nervous system and its components. The core approach in the group is a functional electrophysiological one (from patch-clamping to in vivo). Most of the experiments are supported by computer modelling, focusing on single-cell excitability in relation to the direct chemical surrounding of the neuron as well as on the adaptive strategies for excitability that optimise the working range of active neurons. In the latter case the consequences of single cell strategies are extrapolated to larger neuronal networks. The combination of theoretical and experimental work has proven to be very fruitful in the scientific setting of SILS.

One research topic of this group is the regulation of cellular and network excitability in the central nervous system (CSN). The programme is part of the general theme on nervous plasticity and it participates in the Graduate School for Neurosciences Amsterdam ONWAR . Within the central theme, we concentrate on the regulation of neuronal excitability, in particular in relation to ion channels and intracellular calcium regulation. This research line investigates the development of various types of calcium channels, their distribution over different neuronal compartments, and their relative abundance in cell groups within well defined local neuronal circuits.

A second research line at the cellular level relates calcium influx to energy-driven calcium efflux and calcium buffer capacity. Here we combine electrophysiological and optical techniques in order to obtain the spatio-temporal characteristics of calcium concentration in morphologically defined neuron types. At the level of the local neuronal network the emphasis is on understanding how the particular properties of individual cell groups contribute to the overall transfer of the local neuronal network and how specific synaptic connections can be modified to adapt local circuitry according to needs. Computational modeling at the cellular and network level is essential to put results and hypotheses in perspective.

Research lines Cellular and Computational Neuroscience