Neurons communicate through synaptic connections. Complex behaviors are regulated by ensembles of neurons organized in discrete circuits. Mapping those circuits is the first step toward understanding how behaviors are regulated. Neuroscientists in DNB modulate the activity of individual neurons in circuits to gain deeper understanding of the neurons, their circuits and associated behaviors. How are distant brain regions integrated into circuits? How do neurons and circuits change over time with experience? How are autonomic neural circuits different from those that are modulated with learning? How do circuits and networks of circuits change in neurologic diseases? Answers to these questions will propel our understanding of cognition, memory and learning, stress response and coordinated movement.
Despite decades of research, our understanding of the neurobiology of schizophrenia, specifically the neural circuits underlying symptoms, is still in the early stages. Dr. Stanislav Zakharenko and colleagues posit that synaptic dysfunction and oscillatory abnormalities in neural circuits involving projections from and within the thalamus, with a focus on the thalamocortical circuits, may underlie the psychotic (and possibly other) symptoms of schizophrenia.