Our research interests include brain cellular electrophysiology, exploring network-level phenomena in neocortical brain slices and dissociated cell cultures. We consider the emergence of the coordinated electrical activity and of non-trivial collective properties, when assemblies and neuronal microcircuits are interacting. Bridging the many missing links between synaptic and single-cell properties and the (electrical) phenomena emerging at higher levels of organization, such as neuronal microcircuits and large populations, is my most ambitious goal.
These experimental activities are supported and inspired by biophysical mathematical modelling studies and computer-simulations, involving quantitative description of single-cells and networks of interacting spiking neurons.
We also explore the combination of non-conventional stimulating/recording tools and nanomaterials (e.g. multi-electrode substrate arrays - MEAs) with traditional patch-clamp recording techniques. We are also exploring optogenetics tools and exploit them for network mapping and neuronal microcircuit reprogramming.
Our research activities are ultimately related to the field of Neuroengineering and of synthetic neurobiology, where understanding, repairing, replacing, enhancing, or exploiting the electrical properties of mammalian neural systems are central ultimate goals.
In the past, we became also interested in combining carbon nanotubes and carbon-based materials to neuronal networks, as a first step towards future generation neuroprosthetics. These activities were covered earlier by Nature News as well as by their english podcasts that feature an interview (1, 2).
Our very recent PLoS Biology paper has been featured on Nature Podcast!
If you are an italian speaker, listen to an interview given at the Italian national broadcasting RAI Radio 3, or read a featured article. More recently, we have been divulgating science in the broadcasting program "Caccia al Fotone" (in italian). Click hereto download and listen to an excerpt of such a broadcasting (be patient while it loads).
In the context of the BRAINLEAP project, our work has been covered by Radio 24 - Il Sole 24 Ore by a divulgative scientific broadcasting program "Moebius"(in italian). Click here to download and listen to an excerpt of such a broadcasting (be patient while it loads).