Maccaferri, Gianmaria, PhD, MD



Maccaferri, Gianmaria, PhD, MD


Associate Professor


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Tarry 5-707 Chicago

Areas of Research

Learning & Memory, Signal Transduction

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Recent Publications on PubMed

Current Research

Current Research

Brain functions are the result of the coordinated activity of large networks of neurons, which are composed by many different cell types. As a consequence, the specific properties of synaptic communication between different types of neurons play a pivotal role in shaping the computational power and network activity of specific brain regions. Research in my laboratory is focused on the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions, such as learning and memory, and is often affected by important neurological illnesses like epilepsy, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, we are interested in the synaptic properties of GABAergic inhibitory interneurons, which are a very heterogeneous cellular population, with wide anatomical and functional diversity.

Maccaferri research figure
Macccaferri experiment

An example of paired recording between a GABAergic basket cell and a pyramidal neuron. Notice the short term depression of the inhiobitory post synaptic potentials following repetitive spiking in the internueron.

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The main goal of this laboratory is to understand the role of specific types of interneurons in the regulation of hippocampal network function. We address directly this question by taking advantage of simultaneous whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from synaptically connected interneuron ‡ principal cell pairs in hippocampal slices. We integrate this type of approach with the anatomical analysis of the recorded cells, so that we can contrast physiological to morphological results. This type of experiments allow us to study the specific synaptic properties of defined interneuronal types and relate them to their impact on different types of population network activity. Also, we are interested in the mirror question of how network activity modulates synaptic transmission and plasticity in specific neuronal types. A similar combination of electrophysiological and anatomical techniques is used.

We hope that relating different interneurons to clear network functions may lead to a better understanding of the cellular and molecular bases of hippocampal activity, and generate important insight into the organizing principles of cortical networks in the normal brain and during disease.