Assembly and organisation of inhibitory networks in the cerebral cortex


  • Prof Beatriz Rico

    King's College London

Project summary

How do complex biological systems self-emerge from cells and molecules? In the cerebral cortex, the most complex and advanced region of our brain, there are neural networks that rely on the interaction between excitatory and inhibitory neurons, but the mechanisms controlling their wiring into specific circuits remain largely unknown. 

Our project aims to elucidate how specific classes of inhibitory neurons choose precise targets among excitatory cells. We will take a multidisciplinary approach to identify how genetic information present in excitatory and inhibitory cells determines their precise connectivity, and how experience shapes this process. 

Unravelling the mechanisms underlying the finest details in the formation of neuronal networks in the cortex has important implications for mental healthcare. Increasing evidence suggests that inhibitory neurons malfunction in many neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. Understanding how cortical networks assemble during development will help to produce new treatments for these disorders.