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I’m interested in understanding how differential synaptic inputs to a specific set of neurons modifies essential behaviors such as locomotion, sleep and learning. Therefore it is crucial to investigate how the integration of neurotransmitter inputs and the actions of their corresponding receptors modulate neuronal activity. Currently I’m studying the role of NMDA receptors in modulating neuronal activity in the ellipsoid body, a brain structure associated with visual memory, feature detection and sleep in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. As NMDA receptors are evolutionarily conserved throughout the animal kingdom it is likely that modulatory mechanisms mediated by these receptors represent basic principles that apply to neural networks of many species.
I use state-of-the-art cameras and recently developed genetically encoded voltage indicators (GEVIs) to perform high-speed imaging of changes in membrane potential in a defined population of neurons. This “optical electrophysiology” allows to measure electrical activity in multiple neurons simultaneously and in neurites which are too small for classical electrophysiology. I combine this method with calcium imaging, classical patch clamp and 2 photon imaging, all methods available within the Institute of Neurophysiology. In collaboration with the Sigrist lab and the Owald lab behavioral assays that measure memory performance, locomotion and sleep will reveal how genetic manipulations of NMDA receptors affect these basic behaviors.
all publications available at Pubmed
Raccuglia D, Yan McCurdy L, Demir M, Gorur-Shandilya S, Kunst M, Emonet T, Nitabach MN. (2016) Presynaptic GABA Receptors Mediate Temporal Contrast Enhancement in Drosophila Olfactory Sensory Neurons and Modulate Odor-Driven Behavioral Kinetics. eNeuro. 23; 3(4).
Kunst M, Hughes ME, Raccuglia D, Felix M, Li M, Barnett G, Duah J, Nitabach MN. (2014) Calcitonin gene-related peptide neurons mediate sleep-specific circadian output in Drosophila. Curr Biol. 17; 24(22):2652-64.
Raccuglia D, Mueller U. (2014) Temporal integration of cholinergic and GABAergic inputs in isolated insect mushroom body neurons exposes pairing-specific signal processing. J Neurosci. 26; 34(48):16086-92.
Cao G, Platisa J, Pieribone VA, Raccuglia D, Kunst M, Nitabach MN. (2013) Genetically targeted optical electrophysiology in intact neural circuits. Cell 15; 154(4):904-13.
Raccuglia D, Mueller U. (2013) Focal uncaging of GABA reveals a temporally defined role for GABAergic inhibition during appetitive associative olfactory conditioning in honeybees. Learn Mem. 16; 20(8):410-6.