2020 Selection's Topic-Specific Grant Descriptions

 

4 topic-specific grants for 5 positions in 2020's Selection Announcement

1. Neural principles for cognitive processes (G. Iurilli) (2 positions)

Understanding the biological mechanisms that support cognitive processes is key not only to satisfying our scientific curiosity, but also to developing actionable therapeutic strategies.

This project searches for the biological principles that inform behavior by means of cutting-edge techniques such as in vivo two-photon imaging of the activity of population of neurons, in vivo high-density electrophysiological recording of hundreds of neurons and in vivo patch-clamp recordings of the synaptic inputs to single neurons in behaving rodents.

The project also exploits state-of-the-art optogenetics and pharmacogenetics tools in order to selectively manipulate the activity of genetically-identified neurons in order and test their causal role in specific behaviors. Finally, the project will develop new tools for analyzing innate and trained behaviors in order to discover and model behavioral rules.

Our final goal is to determine how neurobiological principles lawfully constrain behavioral rules. If you share with us a passion for this problem, please contact the P.I. Giuliano Iurilli. Successful candidates are generous and passionate and have a solid quantitative mindset, keen biological intuition and good programming skills (Matlab and/or Python). Prior wet-lab experience or familiarity with computational modeling is a plus, however it is not required.

Contact:

  • Giuliano Iurilli giuliano.iurilli [at] iit.it

Corresponding research area in the online application: Computational neuroscience and cognition

2. Computational methods for the study of neural coding (S. Panzeri) (1 position)

This project aims at understanding how the brain takes decisions based on sensory information. The project will investigate this issue using either computational, behavioral, or brain recording methods, possible in combination.

Contact:

Stefano Panzeri stefano.panzeri [at] iit.it

Corresponding research area in the online application: Computational neuroscience and cognition

3. Methods to potentiate and support cognitive functions in neurological disorders and healthy subjects through novel noninvasive brain stimulation protocols (L. Battelli)(1 position)

The project will explore visual attention, perceptual learning and neuromodulatory procedures to enhance cognitive and motor functions in healthy humans and in the neurological population. Visual psychophysics, TMS and tES coupled with fMRI will be used as techniques to study the direct relationship between brain functions and behavior and to look at pattern of dynamic functional changes during learning.

Contact:

Lorella Battelli lorella.battelli [at] iit.it

Corresponding research area in the online application: Perception and attention

4.  Neuromorphic photonic circuits to modulate neuronal excitability in autism and epilepsy (1 position)

Investigating the cellular mechanisms controlling neuronal excitability paves the way to develop novel therapeutic opportunities for a number of invalidating brain disorders. The goal of this project is to study in-vitro models of epilepsy using drugs and neuronal networks in vitro and to modulate their electrical activity by using neuromorphic photonic circuits. Neuronal cultures from the brain of mouse models of autism and epilepsy will be grown on neuromorphic photonic circuits and cutting-edge techniques (including optogenetics, confocal microscopy, and multi-electrode array recordings) will be used to investigate the interactions between neurons and photonic circuits. This PhD will be part of the ERC-funded BACKUP project (https://r1.unitn.it/back-up/; Prof. Lorenzo Pavesi) and the UniTrento strategic project Trentino Autism Initiative (TRAIN; https://projects.unitn.it/train/index.html; Prof. Yuri Bozzi). We are seeking a highly-motivated and passionate student, with a strong attitude to work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary team. Prior experience in electrophysiology is highly recommended.

Corresponding research area in the online application: Neuromorphic photonic networks

Contacts:

Yuri Bozzi yuri.bozzi [at] unitn.it, Lorenzo Pavesi lorenzo.pavesi [at] unitn.it