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Forstmann group Kole Group

Two scientists receive Vici-grant

Both Professor Maarten Kole and Professor Birte Forstmann have been awarded a Vici-grant of €1,500,000 each by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The funding will enable the scientists to develop their own innovative research line for the next five years. The vici-grants are one of the largest individual scientific grants in the Netherlands.

Speed of thought at nanoscale

Billions of nerve cells store and exchange information in the form of binary electrical impulses in space and time along thin cytoplasmic processes called axons. To achieve a low-cost but high-speed information processing circuit, most axons are ensheathed with membrane layers called myelin. The Kole group will examine at a nanoscopic level whether myelin acts like a coaxial cable in that it makes signals travel more quickly. Furthermore, how does myelin’s acceleration of impulses facilitate speed and precision and reduce energy consumption? The results will deliver new fundamental insights into information processing and how demyelination diseases, such as occurs in MS, may cause cognitive impairments.

A model-based cognitive neuroscience approach to the human subcortex

The human subcortex can be considered terra incognita: only 7% of the structures are available in standard-MRI atlases. Birte Forstmann and her group will be investigating how cognitive, limbic, and motor processes are implemented in the human subcortex. The aim is to find subcortical nodes that could become new target regions for deep-brain stimulation.

Vici

The Vici grant is one of the three types of grant in the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The other two are the Veni grant and the Vidi grant. The Vici grant is intended for highly experienced researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative line of research and can act as a coach for young researchers.

 

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Forstmann group

In our research unit, we use an integrative model-based cognitive neuroscience approach to gain a mechanistic understanding of cognitive processes such as decision-making and how they are implemented in the healthy and diseased brain. This is done on three different levels: the macroscopic, the mesoscopic, and the microscopic levels. The macroscopic level is measured in centimetres, the scale of large neural networks that spread across the whole brain. The mesoscopic level is measured in millimetres, which is the scale of individual cortical and subcortical nodes, and the microscopic level is measured in micro- and nanometres, which is the scale of individual neurons and neurotransmitters. We combine knowledge from functional neuroanatomy, mathematical/computational modeling, and the cognitive/clinical neurosciences.

 

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Kole Group

Axonal Signaling

Axons provide the wiring to connect neurons, and generate and conduct electrical impulses, which are the fundamental operations for fast electrical signaling and information storage in the nervous system. In order to enhance the speed of electrical transmission, axons are tightly wrapped by multiple layers of fatty layers, called myelin, derived from glia cell types. Although myelinated axons play pivotal roles in brain function, only little is understood about the precise electrical properties, their development or electrical architecture. Using advanced electrophysiological methods, high-resolution imaging and computational methods, our group studies signal conduction in the neocortical primary axon.

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