Neurons acquire multiple functional properties through experience-dependent development during specific times in early postnatal life called “critical periods”. In recent years we have achieved the first direct control over critical period timing by manipulating a specific subset of local inhibitory circuits in the visual cortex. Our research focuses on the mechanisms underlying these fundamental processes and how they may be altered in neurodevelopmental disorders. To this end, we combine molecular techniques with electrophysiological and behavioral analysis of systems level phenomena in vivo.
Currently we are studying experience-dependent brain development in mouse models of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). We are particularly focused on Rett syndrome, a leading cause of intellectual disability with autistic features. We are developing new strategies to restore cortical function and critical period timing by targeting Excitatory/Inhibitory circuits as a possible therapeutic intervention.
About Michela Fagiolini
Dr. Fagiolini received her M.S. in Biological Sciences from University of Pisa, Italy and her Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Michael P. Stryker, she joined the Laboratory for Neuronal Circuit Development at the Brain Science Institute in Japan. There she began a productive collaboration with Dr. Takao K. Hensch.
Gogolla N, Leblanc JJ, Quast KB, Südhof T, Fagiolini M, Hensch TK. Common circuit defect of excitatory-inhibitory balance in mouse models of autism. J Neurodev Disord. 2009 Jun 1; 1(2):172-181.
Fagiolini M, Jensen CL, Champagne FA. Epigenetc influences on brain development and plasticity. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Apr; 19(2):207-12.
Katagiri H, Fagiolini M, Hensch TK. Optimization of somatic inhibition at critical period onset in mouse visual cortex. Neuron. 2007 Mar 15; 53(6):805-12.
Carninci P et al. The transcriptional landscape of the mammalian genome. Science. 2005 Sep 2; 309(5740):1559-63.
Fagiolini M, Fritschy JM, Löw K, Möhler H, Rudolph U, Hensch TK. Specific GABAA circuits for visual cortical plasticity. Science. 2004 Mar 12; 303(5664):1681-3.
Fagiolini M, Hensch TK. Inhibitory threshold for critical-period activation in primary visual cortex. Nature. 2000 Mar 9; 404(6774):183-6.
For a list of Michela Fagiolini’s publications on PubMed, click here.