Assistant Professor of Biology

A.B. - Harvard University, Neurobiology
Ph.D. - Stanford University, Neurosciences

Office Hours

Courses: Developmental Neurobiology (BIO 448/548), Understanding Techniques in Neuroscience (BIO 426/526), Human Anatomy (BIO 290)

Research Interests: Development of Cerebral Cortical Connections

Our cerebral cortex, working in concert with other centers of the brain, lets us experience creative human expressions such as love, art, language, religion, and music. Even in small mammals like mice, not only does the cerebral cortex have sensory areas for taste, smell, touch, vision, and hearing, but it also combines these sensations to produce intricate perceptions and experiences.

None of these rich experiences would be possible without first constructing precise connections among the six layers of the cortex. The spectacular architecture of the cerebral cortex arises from a careful control of the quantity and strength of synapses during development.

We hypothesize that each type of cortical neuron follows a set of innate rules for establishing normal connectivity, and that neural activity sets those rules in motion. In this way, "nature" (innate rules) and "nurture" (neural activity) work together as architects to build the cerebral cortex. To discover the rules behind the establishment of synapses, we use histological and electrophysiological techniques to understand the structure and function of developing cerebral cortical neurons in vivo. Understanding the way that neurons develop their connectivity may help with disorders that result from an imbalance in the number or strength of connections, such as autism, fragile X syndrome, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease.

* denotes undergraduate mentee

Holley ZL*, Bland KM*, Casey ZO*, Handwerk CJ*, Vidal GS. Cross-Regional Gradient of Dendritic Morphology in Isochronically-Sourced Mouse Supragranular Pyramidal Neurons. Front Neuroanat 12:103.

Bland KM*, Casey ZO*, Handwerk CJ*, Holley ZL*, Vidal GS (2017). Inducing Cre-lox Recombination in Mouse Cerebral Cortex Through In Utero Electroporation. J Vis Exp (129):e56675.

Vidal GS, Djurisic M, Brown K*, Sapp R, Shatz CJ (2016). Cell-autonomous regulation of dendritic spine density by PirB. eNeuro 3(5):e0089-16.

Kim T, Vidal GS, Djurisic M, William CM, Birnbaum ME, Garcia KC, Hyman BT, Shatz CJ (2013). Human LilrB2 is a beta-amyloid receptor and its murine homolog PirB regulates synaptic plasticity in an Alzheimer’s model. Science 341(6152):1399-404. PMID:24052308.

Djurisic M, Vidal GS, Mann M, Aharon A, Kim T, Ferrao Santos A, Zuo Y, Hübener M, Shatz CJ (2013). PirB regulates a structural substrate for cortical plasticity. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110(51):20771-6. PMID:24302763.

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