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Development of the cerebral cortex in health and disease

Oscar Marín

Oscar Marín

Director, Professor of Neuroscience

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One of the major goals of neuroscience is to understand how brain function emerges through the assembly of specific neuronal circuits. In our laboratory, we aim to understand the logic begind the assembly of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that is responsible for cognition and complex behaviours.

The cerebal cortex consist of two main classes of neurons, excitatory pyramidal cells and inhibitory interneurons. The balance between excitation and inhibition is crucial for cortical function, and so multiple mechanisms are in place that mantains this dynamic equilibrium. In some circumstances, the balance between excitation and inhibition in the cortex is disrupted, causing neurological and psychiatric disorders. For example, severe alterations of the excitatory-inhibitory balance cause epilepsy, and more subtle perturbations may cause autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

Our laboratory investigates the normal and pathological development of cortical circuits using the mouse as an animal models. We are taking a multidisciplinary approach that combines mouse genetics, cutting-edge imaging techniques, and cellular, molecular and electrophysiological methodologies, both in vitro and in vivo. Our research is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Research Council. 

Selected publications

Shi Y, Wang M, Mi D, Lu T, Wang B, Dong H, Zhong S, Chen Y, Sun L, Zhou X, Ma Q, Liu Z, Wang W, Zhang J, Wu Q, Marín O, Wang X (2021) Mouse and humans share conserved transcriptional programs for interneuron development Science

Wong FK, Bercsenyi K, Sreenivasan V, Portalés A, Fernández-Otero M, Marín O (2018) Pyramidal cell regulation of interneuron survival sculpts cortical networks. Nature 557: 668-673
Marín O (2016) Developmental timing and critical windows for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Nat Med 22: 1229-1238
Marín O (2012) Interneuron dysfunction in psychiatric disorders. Nat Rev Neurosci 13: 107-20