Experimental and Theoretical Neuroscience Laboratory | Raul C. Muresan | TINS


Research projects


Our research is currently focused on several important projects dealing with neuronal oscillations. We investigate issues ranging from mechanistic levels, of rhythm generation, up to the level of human cognition, with the emphasis on the functional role of oscillations in different frequency bands.


I. Complexity of cortical dynamics during perceptual binding: gamma oscillations

The project has investigated the role of gamma oscillations in perceptual binding, from the perspective of complexity of neuronal dynamics. Previous studies have addressed the association between gamma oscillations and perception, or even further, between gamma oscillations and conscious processing of sensory stimuli. We investigated the role of gamma oscillations using well controlled stimulation paradigms, recording high density EEG patterns during perceptual tasks, and analyzing the complexity of neuronal dynamics by application of state-of-the-art techniques, such as Fractal Dimension, TESPAR, Multidimensional Pattern Analysis, etc.

Funding: project code is ID-48/2007 being funded, through contract ID No. 204/2007 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program II for Research, Development and Innovation, subprogram Human Resources, administered by the Ministerium for Education, Research and Youth through the Executive Unit for Financing High Education and University Scientific Research (UEFISCSU).

For details, click here.



II. Dynamics of cortical microcircuits: oscillations, resonance, synchronization

The project has investigated the role of cellular properties, such as voltage-gated membrane resonance, on the development of neuronal oscillations in large microcircuits of neurons. The studies involved extensive computer simulations of neuronal membrane behavior and large networks of neurons as well as analysis of multi-electrode data recorded from cat visual cortex.

Funding: project code RP-5/2007 being funded, through contract RP No. 1/2007 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program II for Research, Development and Innovation, subprogram Human Resources, administered by the Ministerium for Education, Research and Youth through the Executive Unit for Financing High Education and University Scientific Research (UEFISCSU).



III. Max Planck - Coneural Partner Group

The project was intended to strengthen the collaboration between Coneural and Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt (MPI). We established a direct and close collaboration with the Neurophysiology Department of the MPI, led by Prof. Wolf Singer. There are numerous projects ongoing that include, among others, the study of temporal structure in neuronal activity. Various techniques will be employed, starting with multi-electrode recordings, to EEG and finally computer modeling and data analysis.

Funding: the project is being funded by the Max Planck Society from Germany.



IV. Object recognition in the human brain via attractors

This was a continuation of the ID-48/2007 research project and investigates the way in which the brain achieves object recognition. The hypothesis is that individual objects are not represented by specialized cells that respond selectively to a single object. Rather, the representation is implemented through dynamical states and attractors towards which the system converges when exposed to a visual stimulus.

Funding: project code TE-11/2010, contract 23/28.07.2010 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program II for Research, Development and Innovation, subprogram Human Resources, administered by the Ministry for Education, Research and Youth through the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Inovation Funding (UEFISCDI).

For details, click here.



V. Mechanisms of gamma oscillations in cortical networks: from emergence to functional role in perception and cognition

The project investigates mechanisms which support gamma oscillations in circuits of the cerebral cortex. It is believed that gamma oscillations have an instrumental role in perception and cognition and their dysfunction is associated with severe neural disorders, likle schizophrenia, autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. Until recently, two major categories of mechanisms have been proposed: Pyramidal INterneuron Gamma (PING) where oscillations emerge from the push-pull interaction of excitatory and inhibitory units, and INterneuron Gamma (ING) where oscillations are produced in a tonicly excited population of inhibitory interneurons that are recurrently coupled. In a previous study, we have shown that there is an additional mechanism, based on membrane resonance of inhibitory interneurons, named Resonance INduced Gamma (RING). The present project intends to identify this mechanism in the brain by performing in vivo electrophysiology and optogenetic experiments.

Funding: project code PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0406/2015, contract 169/1.10.2015 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program II for Research, Development and Innovation, subprogram Human Resources, administered by the Ministry for Education, Research and Youth through the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Inovation Funding (UEFISCDI).

For details, click here.



VI. Action planning and execution across fronto-parietal neural ensembles

Largely overlooked in disease-related research, the parietal cortex is a central structure having massive reciprocal connections to most sensory modalities and frontal areas, but only in the past two decades have there been sustained efforts to study its various cognitive functions. Even less is known about the nature of interactions between parietal and frontal areas during planning and decision making. Here, we propose to address the function of the fronto-parietal system in mammals by investigating the properties of activity in posterior parietal cortex (PPC) and frontal medial agranular cortex (AGm) during free behavior.

Funding: project code PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0010/2017, contract 78/2017 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program III for Research, Development and Innovation, administered by the Ministry for Research and Innovation through the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Inovation Funding (UEFISCDI).



VII. High-bandwidth brain-computer interface demonstrator

The Brain Computer Interface (BCI) has attracted a huge amount of research attention in the past decades, triggered primarily by the hope to build applications where mind control could replace present standard interfaces. A large number of EEG-based BCI systems have emerged on the market but their vast majority has a severely limited bandwidth (0.25-0.5 bits/s). Using our expertise on the mechanisms and estimation of gamma oscillations we will develop a high-throughput BCI which will enable users to control articulated agents acting in complex virtual environments.

Funding: project code PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0007/2017, contract 199PED/2017 from the State Budget of Romania: National Program III for Research, Development and Innovation, administered by the Ministry for Research and Innovation through the Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Inovation Funding (UEFISCDI).