7 July 2020
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Virtually via Zoom
Maurizio De Pitta (Bilbao, Spain)

Bistability Emerges From Neuron-Glial Interactions in the Healthy and Diseased Brain

Maurizio De Pitta, Ph.D.


'La Caixa' Junior Leader Fellow,

Group of Mathematical, Computational and Experimental Neuroscience,

Basque Center of Applied Mathematics

Bilbao, Spain 


Abstract: The anatomical and functional coupling between neurons and astrocytes a prominent type of glial cells of the cortex is an essential component of the brain physiology in health and disease. Astrocytes are fundamental in clearing glutamate from the extracellular space, preventing excitotoxicity by extracellular accumulation of this neurotransmitter. At the same time, astrocytes can also release glutamate into the extracellular space in an activity- dependent fashion, mediating neuromodulation. Although we may expect that both glutamatergic neuromodulation and glutamate uptake by astrocytes likely play a part in higher brain functions, the biophysical underpinnings accounting for this possibility remain elusive. Considering the case study of Alzheimer’s disease, I present experimental and modeling results pinpointing a bistable regulation of extracellular glutamate by astrocytes, in the early stages of the disease that prelude to cognitive impairment. Then, scaling up from the synaptic microenvironment to networks, I introduce theoretical arguments in support of the possibility that bistability could also ensue from astrocytic modulation of glutamatergic neurotransmission. In this context, a neuron-glial network model is developed to test the hypothesis that astrocytic neuromodulation could promote the emergence of persistent neural firing, with important implications for our current working memory framework. Finally, I conclude with an overview of some possible directions to complement and extend the above results, in the spirit of unifying computational approaches to harness the staggering complexity of the neuropil. 

Brief Bio: I am part of the BCAM group of Mathematical, Computational and Experimental Neuroscience (MCEN). Previously, I was a research fellow at INRIA Rhône-Alpes in Lyon (France) as well as at the Department of Neurobiology of the University of Chicago at Nicolas Brunel's group (now at Duke). My research is in the field of computational neuroscience and focuses on studying neuron-glia interactions.

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Topic: Maurizio De Pitta's Seminar
Time: Jul 7, 2020 11:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 756 6714 1611
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