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Department of Neurophysiology
Laboratory of Defensive Conditioned Reflexes
Laboratory of Ethology
Laboratory of Limbic System
Laboratory of Molecular and Systemic Neuromorphology
Interinstitute Laboratory of Neuromuscular Plasticity
Laboratory of Neuropsychology
Laboratory of Psychophysiology
Laboratory of Reinnervation Processes
Laboratory of Visual System
Laboratory of Preclinical Studies in Neurodegenerative Diseases
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Department of Neurophysiology


Prof. Andrzej WRÓBEL
e-mail: a.wrobel@nencki.gov.pl


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The Department was founded in 1946 and headed till 1973 by Jerzy Konorski, followed by Bogusław Żernicki (1973-2001) and since 2002 by Andrzej Wróbel. The major topics of research in the Department over all this years center on anatomical and functional connectivity of the central nervous system including developmental and adult aspects in healthy and pathological states. These research topics are based on the long tradition of behavioral experiments as well as new neurochemical, molecular, histological, electrophysiological, neuroinformatic and modeling methods.

At present, the Department consists of ten laboratories that focus on various aspects of brain function starting from molecular and cellular bases up to the integrative mechanisms of neuronal networks and animal and human behavior.

Sensory systems and perception are studied on five models including the auditory system of the dog (with research focused on anatomical connectivity of the cortical areas); the visual system of the cat and the somatosensory system of the rat (devoted to basic functional physiology as well as contextual mechanisms influencing perception) and the gustatory system of the rat (with analysis of early sensory deprivation). See the “laboratories” section for more details on the groups dealing with these topics, led by Andrzej Wróbel and Tomasz Werka.

The topics related to regeneration, plasticity and aging are the
focus of five other groups. These laboratories use rodents to study mechanisms of neural control of locomotion, recovery of motor functions after central and peripheral injuries in young and adult animals.

The studies include: apoptosis and response of cell-death regulating proteins in neurodegeneration, involvement of neurotrophins and cell adhesion molecules in  neuronal regeneration and regrowth, strategies for stimulation of endogenous pools of regenerative proteins and plasticity processes in the neuromuscular system. Potential of pharmacological treatment, intraspinal grafting or locomotor training techniques to enhance functional recovery following injury and in motoneuron disease models (ALS)are investigated. (Heads of the laboratories:  Julita Czarkowska-Bauch and Urszula Sławińska). Morphological aspects of neuronal plasticity including extracellular proteolysis and glial contribution to synaptic plasticity, are the focus of the group headed by Grzegorz Wilczyński. In addition, morphological correlates of  cellular events in pathogenesis of epilepsy are studied by this group. Other two laboratories (Heads: Elżbieta Szeląg and Grażyna Niewiadomska) carry on systemic, molecular and cellular studies  which concern the function  of basal forebrain cholinergic system in the adult and aging rats, and beta-amyloid induced toxicity in Alzheimer’s disease. Development of novel cognitive tests and pharmacological treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, as well as assessment of drug safety are new subjects of  animal and human  research by these groups.

Emotion and memory are studied with the use of different behavioral paradigms in rats and dogs. The investigations on mechanisms of memory are devoted to strategies of learning, behavioral mechanisms of defensive and alimentary conditioning, mechanisms of spatial, recognition and emotional memory, as well as their neuronal substrates and underlying genetic mechanisms. Neurophysiological and neurochemical research on the emotional system focuses on mechanisms of aggression, fear and social behavior as well as limbic-motor interactions. The effects of psychomimetic compounds on electrophysiological activity of the limbic system are investigated in freely moving rodents. (Heads of the laboratories: Tomasz Werka, Grzegorz Wilczyński and Stefan Kasicki).

Neuropsychological approach is devoted to investigations on hemispheric asymmetry in cognitive and emotional functions; sex-related differences in functional brain organization; as well as mechanisms of speech, left-handedness and dyslexia. Close cooperation with human clinics allow for studies on perceptual, memory and attention deficits after brain damage in epileptic and Parkinsonian patients, subjects with cochlear implants and children with speech disorders. The mutual projects undertaken with clinical partners are important for setting our research in applied science. (Heads of the laboratories: Anna Grabowska and Elżbieta Szeląg).

Finally the laboratory of ethology headed by Ewa J. Godzinska is devoted to ethopharmacological and sociobiological investigations on ants.

Despite the wide scope of studies, two common topics integrate research in the Department: intrinsic mechanisms of behavioral neurophysiology and plasticity of the nervous system. The traditional Wednesday seminars allow for the exchange of new ideas and hot discoveries between the research groups. These seminars also give the opportunity to discuss the lectures delivered by eminent visitors from all over the world on the occasion of their visits to the Department. The thematic seminars on ethology, neuroinformatics and psychophysiology as well as regular Journal Clubs are designed to keep track of the modern trends in neuroscience and are attended by researchers from different laboratories and cooperating academic institutions. The two day integration parties with social activities are organized every spring for all members of the Department, including technical staff. On this occasion Ph.D. students report their annual achievements and awards are given for the best presentations.

Dynamic cooperation with a large number of leading international institutes enables better integration of new techniques, enriching our experimental capabilities. In order to share the expensive facilities for newly implemented techniques, specialized departmental laboratories are organized for use by all the groups. These techniques currently include histology, in vitro slice electrophysiology, EEG and HPLC and modern behavioral setup equipped with digital recording, telemetry and analyzing facilities. The Department has recently established a Polish node of international neuroinformatics network, INCF (www.neuroinf.pl).

During last thirty years six international conferences on "Brain and behavior" and conferences on  „Neuronal Plasticity: Basic and Neurochemical Aspects” and “Recovery from brain damage: behavioral and neurochemical approaches” which were organized by our Departmental staff. These organizational work resulted in establishing Polish Neuroscience Society which took over organization of the main domestic and international neuroscienitific events since 1992. With the integrated editorial effort of the staff, the Department continues to publish the ICI indexed international journal "Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis" (http://www.nencki.gov.pl/an.htm).

Selected publications of the Department

Macias M, Dwornik A, Ziemlinska E, Fehr S, Schachner M, Czarkowska-Bauch J, Skup M. 2007.  Locomotor exercise alters expression of pro-brain-derived neurotrophic factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its receptor TrkB in the spinal cord of adult rats. Eur J Neurosci. 25: 2425-2444.

Meyza KZ, Boguszewski PM, Nikolaev E, Zagrodzka J. 2007. The effect of age on the dynamics and the level of c-Fos activation in response to acute restraint in Lewis rats. Behav Brain Res. 2007, 180: 183-189.

Rymarczyk K, Grabowska, A. 2007. A. Sex differences in brain control of prosody. Neuropsychologia, 45(5): 921-930.

Wróbel A, Ghazaryan A, Bekisz M, Bogdan W, Kamiński J. 2007. Two streams of attention dependent beta activity in the striate recipient zone of cat's lateral posterior - pulvinar complex. J Neurosci, 27: 2230-2240.

Knapska E, Nikolaev E, Boguszewski P, Walasek G, Błaszczyk J, Kaczmarek L, Werka T. 2006. Between-subject transfer of emotional information evokes specific pattern of amygdala activation, PNAS, 103 (10): 3858-3862.

Kowalska JE, Szeląg E. 2006. The effect of the congenital deafness on the duration judgment. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47 (9), 946 - 953.

Niewiadomska G, Baksalerska-Pazera M, Lenarcik I, Riedel G. 2006. Compartmental protein expression of Tau, GSK-3β and TrkA in cholinergic neurons of aged rats. J Neural Trans, 113 (11): 1733-1746

Korczyńska J., Szczuka A., Kieruzel M., Majczyński H., Khvorostova N. and Godzińska E.J., 2005. Effects of the biogenic amines, dopamine, tyramine and octopamine on the behavior of carpenter ant workers [Camponotus herculeanus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)] during nestmate reunion tests carried out after a period of social isolation. Sociobiology, 45: 409-447.

Majczyński H, Maleszak K, Cabaj A, Sławińska U. 2005. Serotonin-related enhancement of recovery of hind limb motor functions in spinal rats after grafting of embryonic raphe nuclei. J. Neurotrauma, 22: 590-604.

Kowalczyk A, Filipkowski RK, Rylski M, Wilczyński GM, Konopacki FA, Ciemierych MA, Siciński P, Kaczmarek L. 2004. The critical role of cyclin D2 in adult neurogenesis. J Cell Biol, 167: 209-13

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Published at: 2007-11-15 12:53

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