LNC - UMR 7291

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience

Director : Thierry Hasbroucq

Campus St Charles
Case C
3, place Victor Hugo
CS 80249
13331 Marseille CEDEX 3
France

The Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience (UMR 7291), located within the Behavior, Brain & Cognition Federation on Saint-Charles campus, focuses on the neural bases of cognitive processes, which are studied through the analysis of behavior and brain activity with various techniques (EEG, fMRI, MEG, single unit recordings…).

Nine different research fields are developed within different research teams:

  • “Cognition and pathophysiology of basal ganglia”
  • “Attention, cerebral dynamics and chronometry”
  • “Neural bases of spatial cognition”
  • “Neural bases of sensorimotor behavior”
  • ” Music, language and writing”
  • “Neurodevelopment of motor and social cognition”
  • “Neural bases of somatosensation”
  • “Brain, obesity and diet imbalance”
  • ATIP/Avenir “Neural bases of motivation”

Pictures from the LNC laboratory

Research teams

All LNC teams are affiliated to the neuroscience master’s program and can thus train neuroscience master’s students and offer them projects to apply for a Ph.D. scholarship.

Cognition and pathophysiology of the basal ganglia (Abdel-Mouttalib Ouagazzal)

The general focus of the team’s research is to characterize the nature of the control exercised by the basal ganglia in sensoryimotor and cognitive functions. This set of subcortical structures plays a major role in the control and programming of voluntary movements.

Our team seeks to characterize at the functional and cellular level the impact of pharmacological or surgical treatments on the expression of deficits obtained in different experimental animal models of Parkinson’s disease, in rats and mice. Our approaches are multidisciplinary: behavioural associated with optogenetic, pharmacological and lesional manipulations carried out mainly in rodents. We use a variety of behavioural, instrumental or Pavlovian tests to highlight behavioural changes affecting motor, cognitive and attention aspects following an alteration of dopaminergic systems.

Members

Amalric Marianne, Lhost Juliette, Liberge Martine, Ouagazzal Abdel-Mouttalib.

Research axes

  • Amplification of the activity of dopaminergic neurons still present in the black substance during the early phases of Parkinson’s disease
  • Characterization of the role of cholinergic transmission in striatum by optogenetics

Techniques

  • Molecular biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Immunostaining, histology, or flow cytometry
  • Microscopy
  • Animal surgery, stereotaxy
  • Pharmacology
  • Animal behavior
  • Optogenetics

Keywords

Neurodegeneration, Parkinson’s disease, basal ganglia, dopamine, acetylcholine, synaptic zinc, optogenetic, motor, cognition, emotion.

Attention, chronometry and brain dynamics (Boris Burle)

The members of this new team are mainly concerned with the neural processes underlying timing and executive
control, focusing on a core network of cortical and subcortical structures encompassing the (pre)Supplementary Motor Area, the inferior frontal gyrus (especially in the right hemisphere), and the basal ganglia.

Members

Jean-Philippe Azulay, Boris Burle, Laurence Casini, Morgane Chassignolle, Jennifer Coull, Stefania Ficarella, Frédérique Fluchère, Aurélie Grandjean, Thierry Hasbroucq, Laurence Questienne, Mick Salomone, Kamila Smigasiewicz, Laure Spieser, Marianne Vaugoyeau, Franck Vidal, Gabriel Weindel.

Research axes

  • Operations of the nervous system over time and anatomical structures
  • Neuronal bases of temporal information processing

Techniques

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychophysical tests
  • Movement or posture analysis, electromyography (EMG)
  • Brain imaging and stimulation – Man (fMRI, TMS…)
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Medical data analysis

Keywords

Action planing, error correction, time estimation, electroencephalography (EEG), fMRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Human cognition and behavior - Motor systems

Neural bases of spatial cognition (Francesca Sargolini)

Our multidisciplinary research aims to understand the neural bases of space navigation. Recent advances make it possible to propose biologically realistic computational models inspired by the concepts of cognitive psychology.

We study not only how animals perceive and orient themselves in space but also the involvement of several neural systems in these abilities.

Emphasis is placed on the role of the hippocampus and several neocortical areas that have distinct functions in spatial treatments. The objective of lesion studies is to describe the differential effects induced by lesions in these structures. Reversible inactivation studies make it possible to analyse the role of structures in specific phases of information processing.
We are also interested in the grid cells of the entorhinal cortex, and seek on the one hand to determine the sensory and neuronal determinants of their activity, and on the other hand how this activity is modified during navigation behaviors.

Members

Fabrizio Capitano, Franck Chaillan, Vincent Hok, Pierre-Yves Jacob, Bruno Poucet, Francesca Sargolini, Etienne Save, Bruno Truchet.

Research axes

  • Role of the hippocampus
  • Unitary neuronal activity in the animal free of its movements
  • The neural basis of space navigation decision making properties of planning based on spatial representations in animals
  • The role of certain sensory systems

Techniques

  • Electrophysiology (in vivo)
  • Animal surgery, stereotaxy
  • Animal behavior

Keywords

Spatial memory, navigation, planning, cognition, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex prefrontal cortex, place cells, grid cells.

Neural bases of sensori-motor behavior (Jean Blouin)

Our research is focused on the neural bases of voluntary movements and postural control. With neurophysiological and behavioural studies, we try to understand the relationships between sensory information, internal representations and movement production (e.g., eye and arm movements, locomotion). We devote a special interest to the fusion of sensory information (e.g. visual, vestibular, proprioceptive, cutaneous) and the sensorimotor transformation during movement planning, execution and learning of movement.

Members

Blouin Jean, Fabre Marie, Guillaume Alain, Mouchnino Laurence.

Research axes

  • Sensorimotor adaptation, learning
  • Posture, anticipated postural adjustments (ABS), locomotion
  • Oculomotricity, eye position coding, eye dominance
  • Microgravity
  • Arm movements: visual, proprioceptive and vestibular control
  • Representation of the environment: updated during body movements

Techniques

  • Psychophysical tests
  • Motion analysis, posture, electromyogram (EMG)
  • Brain imaging and stimulation – Male (fMRI, MSD…)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Key words

Saccade, posture, anticipated postural adjustments (APA), sensorimotor adaptation, arm movements, vision, proprioception, vestibular, cutaneous, electroencephalogram (EEG).

Music, language and writing (Marieke Longcamp)

Our aim is to explore how music and writing contribute to language learning. To address these general questions we will use sophisticated measures of behavior (auditory psychophysics, finegrained kinematics) together with different measures of brain activity and brain structure (ERPs, functional and structural MRI) both in children and in adults, without and with learning disabilities (or movement disorders). A critical factor for an efficient approach of learning is the development of optimal training paradigms, which are at the core of all the proposed projects

Members

Mylène Barbaroux, Mireille Besson, Jeremy Danna, Elie Fabiani, Michel Habib, Marieke Longcamp, Sarah Palmis, Jean-Luc Velay, Lauriane Veron-Delor.

Research axes

  • Music training and word learning
  • Writing training and word learning (Learning how to write words: impact of digital tools in children, adolescents and adults ; Multisensory integration in sonified handwriting )

Techniques

  • Psychophysical tests
  •  Movement or posture analysis, electromyography (EMG)
  •  Brain imaging and stimulation – Man (fMRI, TMS…)

Keywords

Learning, language, writing, brain activity, learning disabilities, behaviour, digital tools.

Disorders of the nervous system - Human cognition and behavior - Motor systems - Sensory systems

Neurodevelopment of motor and social cognition (Christine Assaiante)

We aim to understand the brain maturation and development processes allowing harmonious relationships between motor control and social cognition in Humans. In particular, the team focuses on critical periods of brain maturation during adolescence. Initially focused on healthy brain development, the team also looks at neurodevelopmental pathologies such as autism spectrum disorder.
We combine sophisticated measures of motor and oculomotor control, psychophysics and brain imaging.

Members

Alia Afyouni, Christine Assaiante, Aurélie Fontan, Franziska Geringswald, Marie-Hélène Grosbras, Mathieu Lesourd, Birgit Rauchbauer, Marianne Vaugoyeau, Bruno Wicker.

Research axes

  • Inhibitory control in learning disabilities. Exploration of the neural bases of representations of the body in action: developmental study.
  •  Antistimulants to social stimuli: neurodevelopmental study.
  • Social Brain Prediction and Autism.
  • Brain representations of the actions of others according to their social or transitive character: developmental study of oculomotor exploration and brain activity.
  • Mimicry in adolescence: the influence of defining a common goal.

 

Neural basis of somatosensory functions (Patrick Delmas)

Our goal is to understand the neural basis of somatosensation – the process whereby we experience touch and pain – with an emphasis on identifying molecules that regulate electrogenesis of sensory neurons and detect environmental stimuli within the healthy and pathological somatosensory system. Our research also focuses on characterizing the function of the enteric nervous system in both gastroenterological and neurological disorders.

Members

Pierre Bougis, Lucie Brosse, Bertrand Coste, Patrick Delmas, Angélique Desplat, Bruno Mazet, Nancy Osorio, Françoise Padilla, Thibaud Parpaite, Jérôme Ruel, Nina Sejourne.

Research axes

  • Neuroscience,
  • Ion channels,
  • Sensory system,
  • Mechanosensation,
  • Pain and pain headache,
  • Migraine

Techniques

  • Molecular biology
  •  Biochemistry
  •  Cell culture
  •  Immunostaining, histology, flow cytometry
  •  Microscopy

Key words

Sensory neurons, electrogenesis, sensory neurons, enteric nervous system, ion channels, mechanosensation, nociception, inflammation, pain, migraine, skin, inhibitors, analgesics.

Animal cognition and behavior - Development of the nervous system - Disorders of the nervous system - Excitability, synaptic transmission, network functions - Sensory systems

Brain, obesity and diet imbalance (Jean-Denis Troadec)

” Bon appétit! We all use this idiom, but do we really know how appetite works? Why can it lead to excessive weight gain? What is the brain contribution to the development of obesity? These are some of the questions our team is trying to answer. We focus on characterizing the neural and glial mechanisms that regulate our eating behavior and that can be altered during pathologies such as obesity, anorexia and diabetes. Our research is carried out in a global context where the obesity “epidemic” is a major public health issue worldwide and has been linked to central leptin resistance induced by excessive consumption of fat.
General physiology and functional exploration approaches, such as feeding behavior, calorimetry, telemetry, forced feeding, stereotaxis and electrophysiology, are tools we use in our explorations as well as different mouse models with diet-induced or genetic energy homeostasis disorders. Cellular and molecular biology techniques complete our scientific analytical set.

Members

Anne Abysique, Rym Barbouche, Florent Guillebaud, Bruno Lebrun, Kevin Poirot, Stephanie Rami, Guenievre Roussel, Jean-Denis Troadec.

Research axes

  • Astrocytes to fight against obesity ?
  • Nesfatin-1 neurons : what’s the point ?
  • Toxins on our plate !

Techniques

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunostaining, histology, or flow cytometry
  • Microscopy
  • Animal surgery, stereotaxy
  • Pharmacology
  • Animal behavior
  • Indirect calorimetry

Key words

Food intake, obesity, glia, connexin 43, hypothalamus, brainstem.

Animal cognition and behavior - Disorders of the nervous system - Excitability, synaptic transmission, network functions - Sleep, autonomic and neuroendocrine systems

ATIP Neural bases of motivation (Frédéric Ambroggi)

We use the stimuli we constantly perceive in our environment to guide our actions and achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. Understanding how sensory information is sorted and integrated to guide an appropriate motor response is a major challenge in neuroscience. It appears that the network of nodes at the base plays a central role in this process. This network receives a strong innervation of sensory systems and via its downward connections, it is able to regulate motor behaviour.

My team is interested in integrating sensory information into the nucleus accumbens (NAc), the main entry structure of the limbic domain of the basal ganglia. Various external sensory afferences allow the SNAc to be informed of the presence of rewards in the environment. Thus, our work has helped to show that the ventral tegmental area, the basolateral tonsil, and the prefrontal cortex all participate in the excitation of NAc neurons in response to a stimulus predicting a reward. The excitement of these neurons is directly related to the animal’s motivation to engage in foraging. An essential aspect of this circuit, however, is the need for inhibitory control of these behaviours in order to take into account, in particular, interoceptive information, particularly from the digestive system.

Members

Frédéric Ambroggi, Julie Meffre, Mehdi Sicre.

Research axes

  • Study of the integration of sensory information in the core accumbens (NAc)

Techniques

  • Multi-unit electrophysiology – animal
  • Pharmacology
  • Optogenetics

 

Share the article on :