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Research line dr U. (Umberto) Olcese

The relationship between perception, multisensory integration and intra-cortical communication

The brain, and especially the cerebral cortex, is a highly interconnected web of specialised areas. The goal of my research activities is to investigate how sensory experiences, perception and the behavioural state influence the communication between different cortical areas. This will be achieved by integrating various experimental techniques (such as ensemble recordings, whole-cell patch clamp and optogenetics) with advanced signal processing methods.

Perception and intra-cortical connectivity

The unique properties of the cerebral cortex for processing information both in an integrated and segregated manner has been hypothesised as the key factor in giving rise to conscious perception. We will develop methodologies and perform experiments to understand how interactions between cortical areas vary between conditions characterised by the presence or absence of conscious perception. Multisensory integration is an ideal model to study conscious processing, as it represents the capability of binding together separate sensory streams into unified experiences.

The behavioural state differentially affects coupling between identified neuronal types. During NREM sleep, coupling (measured in terms of mutual information between spike trains) between excitatory neurons located in different brain areas is decreased with respect to active and quiet wakefulness, while intra-area coupling and communication between interneurons is not affected. Adapted from Olcese et al., J Neurosci, 2016.
The behavioural state differentially affects coupling between identified neuronal types. During NREM sleep, coupling (measured in terms of mutual information between spike trains) between excitatory neurons located in different brain areas is decreased with respect to active and quiet wakefulness, while intra-area coupling and communication between interneurons is not affected. Adapted from Olcese et al., J Neurosci, 2016.

Cortical multisensory integration

The ability to integrate information coming from different senses requires the interplay of different specialised brain areas. We will investigate how sensory stimuli and the interplay between different brain areas shape the activity of neuronal populations in cortical multisensory regions. Such characterisation will prove crucial in understanding how the brain is able to bind together different sensory features belonging to the same physical source, and how it subsequently employs such information to produce an appropriate behavioural response.

Umberto Olcese
Layer-dependent multisensory integration in a parietal cortical area. Ensemble recordings showed that multisensory integration is prominent in supragranular layers of parietal associative region RL. Adapted from Olcese et al., 2013.

Collaborators in this research line:

Cyriel Pennartz (Professor)

Tom Sikkens (PhD student)

Jeroen Bos (PhD student)

Conrado Bosman Vittini (Assistant Professor)

Lianne Klaver (PhD student)

Jorrit Montijn (PhD student)

Martin Vinck (former PhD student, now at ESI-Frankfurt)

Luc Gentet (INSERM Lyon – partner in the FLAG-ERA CANON project)

László Négyessy (Hungarian Academy of Sciences  – partner in the FLAG-ERA CANON project)

Zoltán Somogyváry (Hungarian Academy of Sciences  – partner in the FLAG-ERA CANON project)

Key publications:

Olcese, U.*, Bos, J.J.*, Vinck, M.*, Lankelma, J.V., van Mourik-Donga, L.B., Schlumm, F. & Pennartz, C.M.A., Spike-based functional connectivity in cerebral cortex and hippocampus: loss of global connectivity is coupled to preservation of local connectivity during non-REM sleep, J Neurosci, 36 (29), 7676-7692 (2016).

Montijn, J.S., Olcese, U. & Pennartz, C.M.A., Visual stimulus detection correlates with the consistency of temporal sequences within stereotyped events of V1 neuronal population activity, J Neurosci, 36 (33), 8624-8640 (2016).

Olcese, U.† and Faraguna, U.†, Slow cortical rhythms: from single-neuron electrophysiology to whole-brain imaging in vivo, Archives Italiennes de Biologie, 153(2-3):87-98 (2015).

Petrini, E.M., Ravasenga, T., Hausrat, T., Iurilli, G., Olcese, U., Racine, V., Sibarita, J.B., Jacob, T., Moss, S., Benfenati, F., Medini, P., Kneussel, M. and Barberis, A., Synaptic recruitment of gephyrin regulates surface GABAA receptors dynamics for the expression of inhibitory LTP, Nat Commun, 5, art. n. 3921, doi:10.1038/ncomms4921 (2014).

Iurilli, G.*, Olcese, U.* and Medini, P., Preserved excitatory-inhibitory balance of cortical synaptic responses to amblyopic eye stimulation after prolonged monocular deprivation in rats, Plos ONE, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082044 (2013).

Olcese, U.*, Iurilli, G.* and Medini, P., Cellular and synaptic architecture of multisensory integration in the mouse neocortex, Neuron, 79, 579-593  (2013).

Iurilli, G., Ghezzi, D.*, Olcese, U.*, Lassi, G., Nazzaro, C., Tonini, R., Tucci, V., Benfenati, F. and Medini, P., Sound-Driven Synaptic Inhibition in Primary Visual Cortex, Neuron 73, 814-828 (2012).

Nere, A.*, Olcese, U.*, Balduzzi, D. and Tononi, G., A Neuromorphic Architecture for Object Recognition and Motion Anticipation Using Burst-STDP, Plos ONE (2012).

Vyazovskiy, V.V., Olcese, U., Hanlon, E.C., Nir,Y., Cirelli, C. and Tononi, G., Local sleep in awake rats, Nature, 2011 Apr 28;472(7344):443-7 (2011).

Olcese, U., Esser, S.K. and Tononi, G., Sleep and synaptic renormalization: a computational study, J Neurophysiol, 2010 Dec;104(6):3476-93 (2010).

Leemburg, S., Vyazovskiy, V.V., Olcese, U., Bassetti, C.L., Tononi, G. and Cirelli, C., Sleep homeostasis in the rat is preserved during chronic sleep restriction, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107 (36), 15939-44 (2010).

Vyazovskiy, V.V., Olcese, U., Lazimy, Y.M. , Faraguna, U., Esser, S.K., Williams, J.C., Cirelli, C. and Tononi, G., Cortical firing and sleep homeostasis, Neuron 63, 865-878 (2009).

* shared first authors

† corresponding author

For a complete list of publications, visit my Google Scholar profile