Alberto Cruz-Martin

Assistant Professor of Biology

  • Title Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Education PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

The neocortex is important for motor control, sensory processing and the generation of conscious thought. A hallmark of the neocortex is its organization into circuit modules that consist of precise and stereotyped patterns of connections between populations of neurons. The arrangements of these highly conserved circuits allow populations of neurons to coordinate a wide range of sensory and motor functions that underlie complex cognitive behavior. The mission of our lab is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms that guide the development of synaptic connections in the neocortex. Our lab also focuses on identifying the neural circuits underlying social and cognitive functions. In our research we use different models to understand the pathobiology of neurodevelopmental disorders and to develop optimal pharmacological treatments for these disorders. The systems neuroscience approaches that we use to characterize circuit properties in combination with behavioral paradigms provide a powerful way to study the relationship between circuit dysfunction and abnormalities in cognitive-relevant behaviors. Some of the tools and techniques we are currently using in the lab are multiplex fluorescent in situ hybridization, gene transfer techniques, in vivo two-photon (2P) imaging of spine dynamics and ensemble activity, in vitro slice electrophysiology with optogenetics and rabies transsynaptic mapping. Many studies have shown that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Disorders affecting children may include anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. We hope our studies will bring insights into the basic mechanisms of the developmental wiring of the brain and a better understanding of the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Department Profile Page

Lab Website

View all profiles