McGill University Department of Physiology

Neuroscience is one of 10 areas of research in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Physiology.

The focus is to understand the molecules that are important for our brain's development and function, the cellular function of our individual neurons and synapses, and the larger brain systems that underlie our perception and motor control.

There are 11 labs conducting neuroscience research under the following faculty.  Follow the links to read about each investigator's research interests, publications and the work being done in their laboratory.

MAURICE CHACRON

Tel: (514) 398-7493
E-mail: maurice.chacron [at] mcgill.ca

Laboratory web site: http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/physio/chacronlab/

Research Area: Neuron sensory information processing

My long term research goal is to understand the basic mechanisms by which neurons process sensory information. While critical for diagnostic and treatment of sensory deficiencies, these mechanisms are poorly understood to this day. Since sensory processing strategies are shared amongst sensory systems, significant progress towards this goal can be achieved by studying the somewhat simpler sensory systems of lower vertebrates. These animals respond to simple natural stimuli with obvious behavioral relevance and share common brain architecture with higher vertebrates including humans.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/mchacron.htm

MONROE COHEN

Tel: (514) 398-4342
E-mail: monroe.cohen [at] mcgill.ca

Research Area:  Neurophysiology

My research is aimed at understanding how the formation and development of presynaptic and postsynaptic specializations are regulated during nerve-muscle synaptogenesis. Currently our focus is on the development and alignment of presynaptic active zones and postsynaptic junctional folds. This work is carried out on cultures of embryonic Xenopus nerve and muscle cells as well as on neuromuscular junctions formed in vivo. Fluorescent staining and microscopy is used to assess the distribution of the specific synaptic molecules.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/mcohen.htm

ERIK COOK

Tel: (514) 398-7691
E-mail: erik.cook [at] mcgill.ca

Research Area:  Neurophysiology

My lab focuses on how neuronal activity underlies conscious visual perception. We are working to decipher the neural code, the rules neurons use to encode behaviorally relevant information in their electrical activity. The lab uses a combination of electrophysiological, behavioral, and computational techniques. We measure cortical responses during visually-guided tasks and construct quantitative models that link neuronal activity to perception. Our systems level approach is essential for understanding the biological mechanisms of higher brain function.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/ecook.htm

ELLIS COOPER

Tel: (514) 398-4334
E-mail: ellis.cooper [at] mcgill.ca

Research Area:  Neurophysiology / Neuroscience

Research in the Cooper lab address 2 main issues.  One is to understand activity-dependent mechanisms that govern the rearrangement and function of synapses as neural circuits become established during early postnatal life. The second issue is to understand how diabetes depresses the function of the autonomic nervous system. 

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/ecooper.htm

KATHLEEN CULLEN

Tel: (514) 398-5709
E-mail: kathleen.cullen [at] mcgill.ca

Laboratory web site:  http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/physio/cullenlab/

Research Area:  Neurophysiology

An important function of the central nervous system is to keep track of where we are in relation to where we are going as we move through our environment. Research in Dr. Cullen's laboratory explores how cognitive, visual and other inputs are used to generate internal representation of self motion. The experimental approach is multidisciplinary and includes recording from individual neurons in the brain while an alert animal performs a variety of behavioural tasks, as well as behavioral studies in humans, nonhuman primates, and mice.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/kcullen.htm

MLADEN GLAVINOVIC

Tel: (514) 398-6002
E-mail: mladen.glavinovic [at] mcgill.ca

Research Area:  Neurophysiology

Quantal analysis of both spontaneous and evoked release in the peripheral and the central nervous system has been in focus of my interest for many years. These interests branched recently into two different but complementary directions. First, our examination of the quantal release focuses on what determines the amplitude and the time course of the basic unit of release ­unitary quantal event.  Second we are now studying the vesicular release not only in synapses but also in neuroendocrine cells that do not have a built-in sensor of released substances, a development now possible due to the introduction of electrochemical techniques of amperometric recording.

More info:   http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/mglavinovic.htm

PEJMUN HAGHIGHI

Tel: (514) 398-8985
E-mail: pejmun.haghighi [at] mcgill.ca (pejmun.haghighi@mcgill.ca)

Laboratory web site: http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/physio/haghighilab/

Research Area:  Neurophysiology

We are interested in understanding the basic molecular mechanisms that regulate synaptic growth, function and plasticity, and how these mechanisms are affected in disease states.  The projects in the lab focus on three areas of research:

1) Signal transduction cascades that control synaptic growth and function via orthograde and retrograde mechanisms.
2) The role of Rho family of GTPases in the regulation of synaptic structure and function.
3) How pre- and post-synaptic regulation of protein translation coordinates synaptic growth and influences neurotransmitter release.

More info:   http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/phaghighi.htm

JULIO C. MARTINEZ-TRUJILLO

Tel: (514) 398-6024
E-mail: julio.martinez [at] mcgill.ca (julio.martinez@mcgill.ca)

Laboratory web site:  http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/physio/martinez-trujillolab/

Research Area:  Neurophysiology and Cognitive Neurosciences

My research aims at understanding the physiology of cognition and behavior. My laboratory focuses on investigating how the brain transforms visual signals into coordinated motor behavior and how this process is influenced by attention. We use a combination of techniques (electrophysiology, behavioral measurements and brain imaging) in normal subjects and patients. We measure electrical activity in different brain regions and eye movements during visuomotor tasks while manipulating the behavioral relevance of the different task components.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/jmartinez-trujillo.htm

JOHN ORLOWSKI

Tel: (514) 398-8335
E-mail: john.orlowski [at] mcgill.ca

Laboratory Lab Site:  www.medicine.mcgill.ca/physio/orlowskilab

Research Area:  Cell and Molecular Biology

The research interests of my laboratory are to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying pH homeostasis of mammalian cells, focusing on a certain family of transporters called sodium/proton exchangers.  In addition to regulating cytoplasmic and organellar pH, they play an important role in the maintenance of cell volume and the (re)absorption of sodium across intestinal and renal epithelial cells.  Abnormal expression of some of these transporters has been implicated in the pathogenesis of certain human diseases, including essential hypertension, congenital secretory diarrhea, tissue injuries resulting from episodes of ischemia (heart attack and stroke), mental retardation, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.

More info:  http://www.med.mcgill.ca/physio/staffpages/jorlowski.htm