In Vivo Neurophysiology

We study how individual cortical neurons encode sensory stimuli and how sensory representation is affected by behavior. The rodent barrel cortex is an excellent system to study these questions since the individual sensory organs (facial whiskers) are represented by easily identifiable cortical columns. Additionally, our group is part of an international effort to understand human brain function at (sub)cellular resolution.


Sensory processing during behavioral paradigms

During animal behavior, there is a constant interplay between brain areas involved in sensory processing, decision making and motor output. The whisker system is an obvious example of a sensorimotor system where motor output (movement of the sensory organs (i.e. the whiskers)) has to be integrated with incoming sensory information. In turn, the sensorimotor information guides cognitive behaviour. Our research question focusses on the organisational principles of the cortical microcircuit across distinct areas of the sensorimotor system. Techniques used are behavioral training, (in vivo) electrophysiology in awake, behaving animals and post-hoc 3D Neurolucida reconstructions.

Sensory processing in prefrontal cortex

Sensory information can induce shifts in attention and guide decision making and this cognitive behavior critically depends on prefrontal cortex. In this project we study how cognitive behaviour is represented in the prefrontal cortical microcircuit. Techniques used are behavioural training (sensory based decision making), (in vivo) single- and multi-unit electrophysiology in behaving animals and post-hoc 3D Neurolucida reconstructions.

3D reconstruction of labeled neurons

Computer models can be helpful tools to design and direct future experiments and predict possible outcomes. Using 3D reconstructions from in vivo recordings, the first goal is to anatomically reconstruct the cortical column. Then, physiological data will be used to model (and playback) the electrical activity of the cortical column. This project is a collaboration with Marcel Oberlaender and Bert Sakmann from the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany. Techniques used are 3D Neurolucida reconstructions and computer modeling of morphological and physiological properties.

Structure-function relationship of individual neurons in human cortex

Extremely little is known about the morphological and physiological properties of adult human neurons. Together with the labs of Huibert Mansvelder, Idan Segev and Henry Markram, our lab is investigating the relationship between structure and function of individual neurons across all layers in adult human cortex, obtained during resection surgery in the VU medical center (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

We developed a novel pipeline to handle living brain tissue and preserve resected human brain material for the study of fundamental neurophysiological properties such as passive and active membrane properties, synaptic transmission, spike-timing-dependent (associative) plasticity and action potential back propagation.


Mohan H.*, Verhoog M.B.*, Kumar Doreswamy K., Eyal G., Aardse R., Lodder B.N., Goriounova N.A., Asamoah B., Brakspear A.B.C.B., Groot C., van der Sluis S., Testa-Silva G., Obermayer J., Boudewijns Z.S.R.M, Narayanan R.T., Baayen J.C., Segev I., Mansvelder H.D.*, de Kock C.P.J.*, Structure and function of individual neurons across layers of adult human neocortex, Cereb Ctx. 2015 Dec;25(12):4839-53. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv188. Epub 2015 Aug 28.

Narayanan R.T., Egger R., Johnson A.S., Mansvelder H.D., Sakmann B., de Kock C.P.*, Oberlaender M*. Beyond Columnar Organization: Cell Type- and Target Layer-Specific Principles of Horizontal Axon Projection Patterns in Rat Vibrissal Cortex. Cereb Ctx. 2015 Nov;25(11):4450-68. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv053. Epub 2015 Apr 1.

Testa-Silva G., Verhoog M.B., Linaro D., de Kock C.P.J., Baayen J.C., Meredith R.M., De Zeeuw C.I., Giugliano M., Mansvelder H.D. High bandwidth synaptic communication and frequency tracking in human neocortex. PLoS Biol. 2014 Nov 25;12(11):e1002007. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002007. eCollection 2014 Nov.

Dubey M., Bugiani M., Ridder M.C., Postma N.L., Brouwers E., Polder E., Jacobs J.G., Baayen J.C., Klooster J., Kamermans M., Aardse R., de Kock C.P.J., Dekker M.P., van Weering J.R., M Heine V., Abbink T.E., Scheper G.C., Boor I., Lodder J.C., Mansvelder H.D., van der Knaap M.S. Mice with Megalencephalic Leukoencephalopathy with Cysts: A developmental angle. Ann Neurol. 2015 Jan;77(1):114-31. doi: 10.1002/ana.24307. Epub 2014 Dec 4.

Eyal G., Mansvelder H.D., de Kock C.P.J., Segev I., Dendrites impact the encoding capabilities of the axon. J.Neurosci. 2014 Jun 34(24):8063– 8071, doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5431-13.2014. Featured article.

Narayanan* R.T., Mohan H., Broersen* R., de Haan R., Pieneman A.W., de Kock C.P.J., Juxtasomal Biocytin Labeling to Study the Structure-function Relationship of Individual Cortical Neurons. J Vis Exp. 2014 e51359, doi:10.3791/51359.

Team Leader
Christiaan de Kock