Department of Basic Neuroscience, Geneva University
Anthony Holtmaat is a full professor in the Department of Basic Neurosciences, where he holds the IRP Chair Alain Rossier, and co-directs the Lemanic Neuroscience Doctoral School. He is as a molecular and cellular neuroscientist, specialising in neuronal synaptic circuits. His lab studies the mechanisms by which sensory input and learning change synapses in cortical circuits. Receptive field properties of neurons in the somatosensory cortex are malleable, and depend on sensory experience and learning. This so-called functional neuronal plasticity depends on changes in the strength of established synaptic connections, but could also involve structural alterations, including synapse formation and elimination. Holtmaat’s lab explores the mechanisms by which feedback circuits or top-down inputs interact with feedforward or bottom-up inputs to modulate synaptic plasticity and hence receptive field properties of pyramidal cells in the mouse somatosensory cortex. To this end they use transgenic mouse models, viral vectors, ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiology, live imaging techniques and optogenetics, as well as behavioral learning paradigms. Their work has provided conceptual frameworks for the underpinnings of cortical plasticity, which may provide handles for modulating cortical function in various disorders.