Life is a steady stream of experiences, from the smallest events perceived by the senses to life-changing dramatic events. Our brain serves to select the relevant sensory information, and encode salient experiences to long-term memory, modifying our behavior in the future.
In the Citri Lab we study how the nervous system enables resilience to distraction, and subsequently, the encoding of experience, at the molecular, synaptic circuit and behavioural levels.
It is our conviction that this mechanistic understanding will impact the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
The claustrum in attention
While reading these words, you are more attentive to particular visual cues than somatosensory input or background sounds.
A major project in the lab is devoted to understanding the function of the claustrum in enabling resilience to distraction and selective attention. To this end, we are using unique genetic tools and incorporating circuit mapping techniques, automated behavioral analyses, chemogenetics, optogenetics, calcium imaging and electrophysiology in-vitro and in-vivo.
Gene expression is essential for formation of new memories and the encoding of experiences. We study the gene regulatory networks induced in different mouse brain nuclei during the formation of addiction-related behaviors, as well as other natural and pathological behaviors. We study central genes within the networks using virus-mediated knockdown and identify their function in the encoding of experience.
Neural ensembles in the Reward Circuitry
Our uniquely multidisciplinary approach applies knowledge gained from studying the principles of dynamic gene regulation to investigation of neural circuit organization underlying the development of habit formation and addiction, as well as the encoding of aversive experiences. Based on studying the gene regulatory networks induced by a variety of experiences, we developed genetic systems for labeling and manipulation of the specific underlying neuronal ensembles. We are currently investigating the function of these ensembles in the development of behavior, as well the induction of transcription within these ensembles and their synaptic integration.