1988 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) B.A., Neurophysiology
1989 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) M.A., Neurobiology
1993 Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris, France) Ph.D., Neurobiology
1993 – 1995 Postdoctoral Research Associate
The Max-Planck Institute, Munich, Germany
1995 – 2001 Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Neuropharmacology
The Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, CA
2001-present Research Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry
The Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA
The hallmark of all drugs of abuse, including alcohol, is their powerful addictive properties that linger for years after the last drug intake. It has been proposed that addiction and relapse may both result from altered mnemonic processes. At the cellular level, the most studied forms of memory formation are long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD). Unfortunately, very little is known about how alcohol controls LTP and LTD. In our laboratory, we study a slightly different form of synaptic plasticity called Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) which presents the advantage of being elicited under more physiological conditions.
Drugs of abuse and memory
Our main focus is to understand how drugs of abuse alter the way dendritic arborization process electrical signals. Our approach is twofold. First, we examine the molecular and cellular underpinnings of memory formation at synaptic level in medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens, a key brain region of the drug reward pathway. Second, we seek to better understand the effects of alcohol and opiates on these cellular mechanisms. Of particular interest is the role of specific electrical events in shaping synaptic plasticity, and their sensitivity to alcohol and opiates. These events are backpropagating action potentials (action potentials generated at the soma that invade retrogradely the dendritic arborization) and excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSPs).
Our technical expertise lies primarily in our ability to use several electrophysiological patch-clamp techniques to record various electrical events, ranging from single channel activity to action potentials from primary cell cultures, isolated neurons and fresh brain slices.