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Research Group
Plasticity of Brain Networks
Unit Unit Cellular and Systems Neurobiology »

Principal Investigator Ph.D. Investigator Graduate students / Research Assistant Technician
Research Fields
How are memories encoded, stored and retrieved in our brains?
Experience-dependent modulations of synaptic strength shape the functional structure of the brain, recruiting relevant networks in a particular context and supporting behavioural adaptation. Little is known, however, about how synapse dynamics are transformed into network dynamics. The work of our lab has demonstrated that brain circuits involved in learning and memory are functionally reorganized after local potentiation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. We are currently investigating the mechanisms underlying this network reorganization, focusing on short- and long-term synaptic plasticity and the excitatory/inhibitory balance in specific brain regions. In doing so, we study the mechanism that govern information routing in the complex network of parallel and highly distributed connections implemented in the brain. We use different animal models and combine functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with electrophysiological recordings, electric or optogenetic stimulations of targeted regions, and behavioural testing.

The same cellular mechanisms that mediate experience-dependent neuroplasticity and allow learning from, and react to, changes in the environment can also be activated by drugs of abuse. Human and animal studies indicate that the refractory nature of addiction results from drug-induced stimulation of reward-related learning networks. As a consequence, drug seeking behaviour becomes hard-wired in the addict’s brain. By applying the same multidisciplinary approach, we are investigating the functional reorganization of brain networks supporting addiction and relapse.


Representative Publications

Moreno A , Morris RG, Canals S.* " Frequency-Dependent Gating of Hippocampal-Neocortical Interactions. " Cereb Cortex . pii , bhv033 - ( 2015 ) * Corresponding author

Reis S , Hu Y, Babino A, Andrade JA, Canals S, Sigman M, Makse H. " Avoiding catastrophic failure in correlated networks of networks. " Nature Physics . 10 , 762 - 762 ( 2014 )

Martinez-Martinez MA , Pacheco-Torres J, Borrell V*, Canals S*. " Phenotyping the central nervous system of the embryonic mouse by magnetic resonance microscopy. " Neuroimage . 97 , 95 - 106 ( 2014 ) * Corresponding author

Alvarez-Salvado E , Pallarés V, Moreno A, Canals S*. " Functional MRI of long-term potentiation: imaging network plasticity. " Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci . 369(1633) , - 20130152 ( 2013 ) * Corresponding author

Canals S.* , Beyerlein, M., Merkle, H. and Logothetis, N.K. " Functional MRI evidence for LTP-induced neural network reorganization. " Curr.Biol . 19(5) , 398 - 403 ( 2009 ) * Corresponding author
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Universidad Miguel Hernández

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