Neuroscience, Neuroimmunology, Learning and Memory, Neurodegeneration
Current projects running in the lab:
Exercise and the formation of new neurons
Neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons in the adult brain was shown in mice to be important for memory formation and extinction. Physical exercise promotes adult neurogenesis via several factors including Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). We identified that L-lactate, a physical exercise-induced metabolite, promotes adult hippocampal neurogenesis. We are currently studying the underlying mechanisms by which lactate affect adult hippocampal neurogenesis.
Are new neurons contributing to our cognition?
Research in animal models taught us that physical exercise improves many cognitive domains, including spatial learning, the ability to navigate in the environment. Much less is known about the effects of aerobic exercise on the human brain, with most evidence indicating a beneficial effect on executive functions. We are currently studying whether similarly to the evidence in rodents, physical exercise benefits spatial learning in humans.
Preventing dementia in Down syndrome
Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) suffer from early onset of dementia which is highly similar to dementia in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since DS can be diagnosed in utero, potential treatments against dementia in DS individuals can be initiated at a very young age. In this study we are developing strategies for early intervention to ameliorate dementia in DS patients.