Carl Petersen and Alexei Verkhratsky share their research on homeostatic neuroglia and imaging of neuronal network function. This webinar is brought to you by APS’ new journal, Function, and part of their Physiology in Focus learning series.

During this exclusive live webinar, Carl Petersen and Alexei Verkhratsky discuss astrocyte-mediated homeostatic control of the central nervous system, and how optical and 2-photon microscopy can be used for functional neuroimaging.

Imaging Neuronal Function
Carl Petersen, PhD

Highly dynamic and spatially distributed neuronal circuits in the brain control mammalian behavior. Through technological advances, optical measurements of neuronal function can now be carried out in behaving mice at multiple scales. Wide-field imaging allows the dynamic interactions between different brain areas to be studied as sensory information is processed and transformed into behavioral output. Within a brain region, two-photon microscopy can be used to image the neuronal network activity with cellular resolution allowing different types of projection neurons to be distinguished. Together optical methods provide versatile tools for causal mechanistic understanding of neuronal network function in mice.

Astrocytes: indispensable neuronal supporters in sickness and in health
Alexei Verkhratsky, MD, PhD, DSc

The nervous system is composed of two arms: the executive neurons and the homeostatic neuroglia. The neurons require energy, support, and protection, all of which is provided by the neuroglia. Astrocytes, the principal homeostatic cells of the brain and spinal cord, are tightly integrated into the neural networks and act within the context of the neural tissue. As astrocytes control the homeostasis of the central nervous system at all levels of organization, from the molecular to the whole organ level, we can begin to define and understand brain vulnerabilities to aging and diseases.


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Professor of Neuroscience
École Polytechnique Féderale de Lausanne

Carl Petersen studied physics as a bachelor student in Oxford (1989-1992). During his PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Sir Michael Berridge in Cambridge (1992-1996), he investigated cellular and molecular mechanisms of calcium signalling. In his first postdoctoral period (1996-1998), he joined the laboratory of Prof. Roger Nicoll at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to investigate synaptic transmission and plasticity in the hippocampus. During a second postdoctoral period, in the laboratory of Prof. Bert Sakmann at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg (1999-2003), he began working on the primary somatosensory barrel cortex, investigating cortical circuits and sensory processing. Carl Petersen joined the Brain Mind Institute of the Faculty of Life Sciences at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2003, setting up the Laboratory of Sensory Processing to investigate the functional operation of neuronal circuits in awake mice during quantified behavior. In 2019, Carl Petersen became the Director of the EPFL Brain Mind Institute, with the goal to promote quantitative multidisciplinary research into neural structure, function, dysfunction, computation and therapy through technological advances. Since 2015, he has been a Member of the Academia Europaea.

Professor of Neurophysiology
University of Manchester

Alexei Verkhratsky, MD, PhD, DSc, is Professor of Neurophysiology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). He is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of cellular neurophysiology and is best known for his contributions to the physiology and pathophysiology of neuroglia. Recently, Alexei Verkhratsky authored a pioneering hypothesis of astroglial atrophy and loss of function as a general mechanism defining cognitive aging and vulnerability to neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. In a series of highly cited conceptual papers and textbooks, he outlined the basic principles of glial physiology and pathophysiology, which have significantly influenced this rapidly developing area of neuroscience. He is a member of several European academies, including the Academia Europaea and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

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