• Brain Cortex © 2016 IIT 4436
  • Scheggia, Papaleo And The Operon Task © 2016 IIT 4471
  • March 2014 Lab IIT For Website © 2016 IIT 4470

The genetics of cognition research aims at unravelling how genetic variations alter the developmental trajectories of cognition. Cognitive impairments are one of the earlier, most debilitating and incurable symptoms of psychiatric disorders with a high genetic component. This research focuses on understanding the impact of genetics on the neural circuitries underlying disorders as well as clarifying their impact on psychopathological/neurocognitive profiles in human patients and controls.

The aetiology of cognitive disorders is complex and largely unknown, with both genetic and environmental contributing factors. Notably, cognitive impairments are one of the earlier, most debilitating and incurable symptoms of psychiatric disorders with a high genetic component such as schizophrenia, autism and ADHD. Critically, we still have a limited understanding of the impact of genetics on the neural circuitries underlying these behavioral alterations.

Our aim is to unravel how genetic variations alter the developmental trajectories of cognition. To achieve this, we employ a multidisciplinary approach integrating multifunctional behavioral and molecular analyses with in vivo neuronal outputs. Mutant mice allow to avoid the complexity of human polymorphisms, genetic and clinical heterogeneity and allow to better address the impact of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions.

As the success for preventing/curing cognitive deficits dramatically increases with early detection and early intervention, we characterize genetic-driven neurobehavioral features during critical developmental periods (e.g. adolescence). Finally, to directly translate our findings in the clinic, we analyze genetic polymorphisms and their impact on psychopathological/neurocognitive profiles in human patients and controls.

Laboratories

  • State-of-the-art behavioral facilities and equipment for phenotyping genetically modified mice. Special custom-made apparatuses to assess higher order cognitive functions.
  • Set ups for in vivo electrophysiology, in vivo microdialysis, in vivo pharmaco- and opto-genetics.
  • Full access to ancillary shared facilities such as: animal housing, molecular biology, genotyping, imaging, FACS and cell sorting, clean-room, small electronic and hardware.

Collaborations

  • A. Gozzi, IIT@UNITN
  • V. Murino, IIT PAVIS
  • S. Vicari, M. Armando, Hospital Bambino Gesù
  • G. Spalletta, Fondazione Santa Lucia
  • D.R. Weinberger, Lieber Institute, Johns Hopkins University
  • K. Wang, NIMH
  • S. Elliez, University of Genève
  • M.L. Scattoni, Istituto Superiore di Sanità
  • A. Contarino, Universités Bordeaux 2
  • University of Padova
  • Ugo Basile
  • Hoffmann–La Roche