Nathalie Rochefort

Dr Nathalie Rochefort is a Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Chancellor’s Fellow in the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Integrative Physiology.

The field of sensory neuroscience aims to understand how neuronal activity in the brain’s visual cortex underlies our perceptions and actions. Using advanced imaging and electrophysiological recordings, scientists are making significant inroads to understanding how neuronal communication can go array in Fragile X syndrome (FXS).

SENSORY NEUROSCIENCE – A PROMISING AREA OF RESEARCH
Nrochefort
The brain’s neuronal networks function in an exquisite balance of excitation and inhibition to create patterns of activity that ultimately drive our perceptions and actions. This image shows a coronal section of the mouse primary visual cortex where all neurons are labeled in blue and a subpopulation of inhibitory neurons are shown in red and green. Current projects aim at testing whether and how the activity of specific classes of inhibitory neurons is disrupted in a mouse model of Fragile X and in another mouse model of intellectual disability, namely a heterozygous null mutation in Syngap. This image was taken by Dr Janelle Pakan, a post-doctoral fellow in my group.

My research group uses imaging and electrophysiological recordings to study how activity in the brain’s neuronal circuits can be disrupted. We do this by studying neuronal circuits in mouse models of autistic spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.

Our current projects aim at testing whether and how the activity of specific classes of inhibitory neurons is disrupted in a mouse model of FXS and in another mouse model of ID, namely a heterozygous null mutation in Syngap.

This work builds on research carried out during my PhD that looked at the transfer of visual information between cerebral hemispheres, through the corpus callosum.

Using a powerful new imaging approach called in vivo two-photon calcium imaging, we were able to see this transfer of visual information from one part of the brain to the other.

This finding has contributed to a new understanding of how sensory information is processed in the healthy, intact brain. The imaging technique provides us with a new way to investigate neuronal functions in the living brain.

Email: n.rochefort@ed.ac.uk

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