Madhu Kannan

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Job Description

Madhu Kannan is an Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and a member of the Medical Discovery Team on Optical Imaging and Brain Science.

Dr. Kannan completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry in Chennai, India, and acquired a Master’s in Molecular Genetics at the University of Leicester, UK. She then obtained a Ph.D. in Neurophysiology at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine and George August University, in Germany. During her postdoctoral work, in the lab of Dr. Mike Higley at Yale School of Medicine, CT, she studied the mechanisms of experience-dependent plasticity at cortical inhibitory synapses using slice electrophysiology and optogenetics. She subsequently joined the lab of Dr. Vincent Pieribone, for a second postdoc, where she created a suite of mutually compatible recombinant voltage indicators and used them to perform some of the first recordings, with millisecond resolution, of the correlated dynamics of genetically distinct neuron types in cortical microcircuits in behaving rodents.

Animal cognition is a complex dynamic process that is tightly controlled by feed-forward and feed-back mechanisms and involves the concerted action of multiple distinct excitatory and inhibitory neuron types in the brain. Modern genetic and optical tools enable the targeted identification, stimulation, or recording of a single neuron type at a time. However, how the activation dynamics of multiple neuron types converge in real-time and how these time-varying interactions impact network output to influence the cognitive outcome are unknown. Using single-neuron, single-spike resolution, multi-population voltage imaging in mice, during selective attention paradigms adapted from primates, my research program will examine the synergistic dynamics of targeted cortical neurons in behavior and cognitive function. We will further combine this approach with targeted gene perturbation to understand the contribution of risk genes to impaired circuit function, which may in turn contribute to some of the cognitive deficits associated with psychiatric illnesses.

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