Marie Carlén, Ph.D.
Unlike other diseases, as cancer for example, psychiatric disorders cannot so far be identified based on physiological or histological abnormalities. We simply do not know the molecular basis of these disorders, and efforts to discover and develop new drugs for psychiatric disorders have been unsuccessful. We need new and different approaches to understand the disease processes, and our lab therefore focus on deciphering the symptoms actually documented in human patients, and on establishing what normal brain functions are altered in psychiatric disorders.
There are obvious limitations in what can be accomplished through human studies, and animal studies are therefore crucial. Animal models enable testing of new hypotheses about the biological mechanisms underlying disorders and their symptoms, and also help us understand the actions of psychopharmaca.
In the lab we use the latest knowledge about human symptoms to create animal models mimicking the symptoms. While it has been popular to investigate the role of synchrony in a wide range of cognitive and executive processes, fewer investigations have examined the relevance of neural synchrony in pathological brain states. In a multidisciplinary approach we are fusing traditional genetic methods with the latest state of the art in vivo optogenetic methods to change brain activity. The main readouts are in vivo electrophysiology in both awake and anesthetized animals for studies of circuit functions, and animal behaviour.
The aims of our work are to:
Shed light on mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders
- To understand how brain activity and neuronal networks are affected or altered
- To establish underlying molecular mechanisms
Understand and explore therapeutical drugs relevant for schizophrenia
Understand normal network functions
A critical role for NMDA receptors in parvalbumin interneurons for gamma rhythm induction and behavior.
Molecular Psychiatry Apr 5, 2011. [Epub ahead of print]
Neocortical interneurons: from diversity, strength
Cell 142:189-193, 2010
Targeted optogenetic stimulation and recording of neurons in vivo using cell-type-specific expression of Channelrhodopsin-2
Nature Protocols 5:247-254, 2010
Driving fast-spiking cells induces gamma rhythm and controls sensory responses
Nature 459:663-667, 2009