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Centre for Integrative Neurophysiology
Hugh Robson Building
George Square

EH8 9XD - Edinburgh
United Kingdom


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Dr Nathalie Rochefort
Functional Connectivity in Sensory Cortical Circuits
Centre for Neuroregeneration University of Edinburgh

Research Area

Brain functions such as sensations and thoughts depend on the coordinated activity of neuronal networks in precise spatial and temporal sequences. The aim of my lab is to reveal the mechanisms underlying such coordinated cortical activity. We are using the first cortical area reached by visual inputs, the primary visual cortex, as a model system of cortical integration.
The experimental approach is to use an in vivo imaging method, two-photon calcium imaging, combined with electrophysiological recordings and anatomical techniques, in the mouse primary visual cortex. We record both spontaneous activity and activity evoked by visual stimuli at the level of single neurons as well as neuronal populations.
This approach allows for the study of the functional connectivity in cortical circuits involved in sensory-driven behaviours. Using such information, we apply the same combination of methods to study how this functional connectivity is disrupted in the brain of mouse models for autistic spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities.

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5 Selected Publications

Grienberger C., Rochefort NL., Adelsberger H., Henning HA., Hill DN., Reichwald J., Staufenbiel M., Konnerth A. (2012) Staged decline of neuronal function in vivo in an animal model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Nat. Comm., 3:774.

Rochefort NL., Narushima M., Grienberger C., Marandi N., Hill DN., Konnerth A. (2011) Development of direction-selectivity in mouse cortical neurons, Neuron, 71 (3) :425-32.

Jia H., Rochefort NL., Chen X., Konnerth A. (2011) Dendritic organization of sensory input to cortical neurons in vivo. Nat. Protoc., 6 (1) : 28-35.

Jia H., Rochefort NL., Chen X., Konnerth A. (2010) Dendritic organization of sensory input to cortical neurons in vivo. Nature, 464 (7293) : 1307-12.

Rochefort NL., Garaschuk O., Milos RI., Narushima M., Marandi N., Pichler B., Kovalchuk Y., Konnerth A. (2009) ´Sparsification´ of neuronal activity in the visual cortex at eye-opening. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U S A,  106 (35) : 15049-54.

Awards, Fellowships and Honours

2013            Schilling Research Award of the German Neuroscience Society 2013
20011          Bernard Katz Lecture Award (with Alexander von Humboldt travel grant)
2005            Research Grant from the French National Federation for the Blind and Visually Disabled People (until 2006)
2002            3-Year Ph.D. Scholarship from the French Ministry of Research and Education
2002            DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Scholarship for Studying in Germany

Technical Expertise
  • Primary visual cortex
  • Development of cortical visual properties
  • Neuronal integration of synaptic inputs
  • Functional cortical connectivity
  • Two-photon imaging
  • In vivo imaging and electrophysiology