LNC - UMR 7291

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience

Director : Bruno POUCET

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…).

The following five research themes are developed within separate teams:

  • Cognition and pathophysiology of the basal ganglia
  • Attention, chronometry and brain dynamics
  • Neural bases of spatial cognition
  • Neural bases of sensori-motor behavior
  • Dynamics of auditory and motor leaming

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 (Marianne Amalric)

Our research aims at characterizing the control of sensorimotor, cognitive and emotional functions subserved by the basal ganglia (BG). This set of subcortical structures has been linked to various neurological (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease…) and psychiatric diseases (schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders…).
The project involves a multidisciplinary approach to analyze at behavioral and cellular level the impact of genetic, optogenetic, pharmacological or neuroxin lesioning manipulations in experimental rodent models of Parkinson’s disease. Our work led us to propose novel therapeutic strategies targeting glutamate and cholinergic receptors.

One line of research focuses on the role of striatal cholinergic interneurons in the functional remodeling of the BG circuit in pathological conditions. Consideration is given to the involvement of this neuronal population in the development of cognitive and emotional deficits observed in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

A second line of research focuses on the role of synaptic zinc in BG physiopathology. Synaptic zinc is coreleased exclusively with glutamate by cortical terminals. It acts as a neuromodulator and can thus alter the normal functioning of the BG under pathological conditions.

Members

Amalric Marianne, Liberge Martine, Mourre Christiane, Ouagazzal Abdel-Mouttalib, Ztaou Samira, Sikora Joanna. Equipe ATIP – Avenir : Ambroggi Frédéric, Meffre Julie. Total : 3 HDR.

Research axes

  • to characterize the impact of genetic, pharmacological or surgical treatments in experimental models of Parkinson’s disease
  • to explore the role of cholinergic transmission in the striatum
  • to explore the function of striatal synaptic zinc

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

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

Attention, chronometry and brain dynamics (Thierry Hasbroucq)

In order to process information efficiently the nervous system has to be able to adapt to a variety of different contexts. Such cognitive flexibility depends upon the so-called « executive functions». It is generally accepted that executive functions are mediated by a supervisory attentional system, which coordinates the selection and integration of fundamental information processing mechanisms. The executive function framework can be used to understand why errors are committed in everyday life, as well as to characterise functional impairments following lesions of the frontal cortex or basal ganglia. Our experimental protocols are designed to study and measure action monitoring processes during decision-making, action planning, response inhibition, error correction and time estimation. Accurate timing is critical both for anticipating when an event will occur so as to optimise behaviour and for temporally coordinating a sequence of actions. We study action monitoring in the human brain, using a combination of behavioural, neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and psychopharmacological approaches.

Members

Hasbroucq Thierry, Assaiante Christine, Benkherrat Moncef, Burle Boris, Casini Laurence, Charras Pom, Coull Jennifer, Fontan Aurélie, Grosbras Marie-Helene, Servant Mathieu, Spieser Laure, Vidal Franck. Total : 6 HDR.

Research axes

  • Executive functions
  • Frontal and motor cortex
  • Decision making
  • Action planning
  • Response inhibition
  • Time estimation
  • Neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological approaches in human

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 (Etienne Save)

Our research takes a multidisciplinary approach to the problem of how animals process spatial information to navigate in space. Recent progress on the neurophysiological bases of spatial knowledge provides support for biologically realistic computational models inspired by the concepts of cognitive psychology. Accordingly, we study not only how animals perceive and navigate in space but also the involvement of several neural systems in these abilities. We investigate the role of the hippocampus and several neocortical areas including the entorhinal, prefrontal, parietal, and retrosplenial cortices, using various techniques. Our main approach however is the recording of unit activity in the freely moving animal. Our aim is to understand how these structures cooperate in the processing of spatial information allowing an animal to produce flexibles behaviors in an ever-changing environment.

Members

Save Etienne, Chaillan Franck, Cholvin Thibault, Hok Vincent, Poucet Bruno, Rodo Christophe, Sargolini Francesca, Truchet Bruno. Total : 3 HDR.

Research axes

  1. the neural bases of spatial cognition
  2. the properties of spatial representations in animals
  3. the neural substrates of goal-directed behaviors
  4. the contribution of sensory information to navigation

Techniques

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

Keywords

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

Human cognition and behavior - Sensory systems

Neural bases of sensori-motor behavior (Jean Blouin)

Our research focuses on the neural bases of voluntary movements and postural control. With neurophysiological and behavioral 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) during movement planning, execution and learning.

Members

Blouin Jean, Guillaume Alain, Lebar Nicolas, Lhomond Olivia, Manson Gerome, Mouchnino Laurence, Saradjian Anahid. Total : 3 HDR.

Research axes

  • Sensorimotor adaptation, learning
  • Posture, anticipatory postural adjustments (APA), locomotion
  • Arm movements: Visual, proprioceptive and vestibular control
  • Microgravity
  • Eye movement, Eye position coding, ocular dominance
  • Space updating

Techniques

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

Keywords

saccade, posture, anticipated postural adjustments (APA), sensorimotor adaptation, arm movement, vision, proprioception, vestibular, cutaneous, electroencephalography (EEG)

Human cognition and behavior - Motor systems - Sensory systems

Dynamics of auditory and motor leaming (Mireille Besson)

The aim of our research is to better understand the spatio-temporal dynamics of processes involved in the perception and production of spoken or written language and music. We also study the relationship between these processes and other perceptual, cognitive, emotional and motor mechanisms, taking into account the fundamental role played by the context. To this aim, we conduct experiments in healthy participants and in patients with specific disorders of comprehension, perception and production of language (dyslexia, dysgraphia, degenerative or psychiatric disorders) and music.

Members

Besson Mireille, Cermolacce Michel, Danna Jérémy, Habib Michel, Longcamp Marieke, Naudin Jean, Velay Jean-Luc, Vion-Dury Jean, Yunez-Naude Norma. Total : 3 HDR.

Research axes

  • MMusic and language
  • Relationship between reading & writing
  • Relationship between writing & sound
  • Dyslexia
  • Links between learning disabilities and emotional behaviors such as hyperactivity with attention disorders
  • Neurophysiology and psychiatry : third and first person approaches
  • Psychophysiology of sound and music listening in schizophrenic patients
  • Epistemology and phenomenology

Techniques

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

Keywords

Learning, music, language, reading, writing, sound, listening, dyslexia, psychiatry, schizophrenia, epistemology, phenomenology

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