Alberto Cruz-Martin

Assistant Professor, Neural Circuits & Synaptic Processing

  • Title Assistant Professor, Neural Circuits & Synaptic Processing
  • Phone 617-358-3291
  • Education PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, 2006

Current Research

A hallmark characteristic of sensory systems is that neurons in the periphery are tuned to detect specific features in our surroundings. As sensory information travels through the brain, downstream circuits combine it to generate richer, more elaborate representations of the world. My current research aims to define the neural pathways that feed the visual system and at understanding how this information is parsed and later combined to create a percept of our world. As an example, we recently discovered that several types of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that are sensitive to directional motion feed the retino-geniculo cortical pathway via a specific di-synaptic circuit.

Our research combines methods such as genetic labeling of RGCs, rabies virus trans-synaptic circuit mapping and recordings of neural activity using genetically encoded calcium sensors and electrophysiological methods to understand these aims. Our long-term objective is to use the mouse visual system to bridge the gap between cellular and systems neuroscience to understand the contribution of specific cell types and their connections to visual processing and perception. Understanding the neuronal framework upon which the visual system is built will allow us to find treatments for neuronal networks that have gone awry, like in brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Selected Publications

  • Cruz-Martín A, El-Danaf RN, Osakada F, Sriram B, Ghosh A, Dhande O, Nguyen P, Huberman AD (2014) A dedicated circuit linking direction-selective retinal ganglion cells to primary visual cortex. Nature 507 (7492), 358-361
  • Cruz-Martín A, Crespo M, Portera-Cailliau C (2012) Glutamate induces the elongation of early dendritic protrusions via mGluRs in wild type mice, but not in fragile X mice. PLoS One. 7(2): e32446 Epub 2012 Feb 27
  • Cruz-Martín A, Crespo M, Portera-Cailliau C (2010) Delayed stabilization of dendritic spines in fragile X mice. J Neurosci. Jun; 30: 7793–7803
  • Chowdhury T, Jimenez JC, Bomar J, Cruz-Martín A, Cantle JP, Portera-Cailliau C(2010) Fate of Cajal-Retzius neurons in the postnatal mouse neocortex. Front in Neuroanat. Mar 3; 4: 10 doi: 10.3389/neuro.05.010.2010
  • Cruz-Martín A, Portera-Cailliau C (2010) In Vivo Imaging of Axonal and Dendritic Structures in Developing Cortex. In Imaging in Developmental Biology: A Laboratory Manual, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, doi:10.1101/pdb.prot080150
  • Cruz-Martín A, Schweizer FE (2008) Imbalance between excitation and inhibition among synaptic connections of CA3 pyramidal neurons in cultured hippocampal slices. Eur J Neurosci. Mar; 27(6): 1353-63
  • Sippy T, Cruz-Martín A, Jeromin A, Schweizer FE (2003) Acute changes in short-term plasticity at synapses with elevated levels of neuronal calcium sensor-1. Nat Neurosci. Oct; 6(10): 1031-8
  • Cruz-Martín A, Mercado JL, Rojas LV, McNamee M, Lasalde-Dominicci JA(2001). Tryptophan substitutions at lipid-exposed positions of the gamma M3 transmembrane increase the macroscopic ionic current response of the Torpedo californica nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. J Membr Biol. Sep 1; 183(1): 61-70

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