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Diego Contreras, MD, PhD

Diego Contreras, MD, PhD

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Professor of Neuroscience
Department: Neuroscience
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience
215 Stemmler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6074
Office: (215) 573 8780
Fax: (215) 573 2015
Education:
M.D.
University Autonoma of Madrid, Spain, 1988.
Ph.D.
Laval University, Quebec, Canada, 1996.
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Description of Research Expertise

KEY WORDS:
cortex, thalamus, optical, information, coding, epilepsy

RESEARCH INTERESTS
Representation of information in corticothalamic networks. Epilepsy.

RESEARCH TECHNIQUES
Intracellular and optical recordings in vivo and in vitro.

RESEARCH SUMMARY
My lab's focus is on how the nervous systems encodes information. In particular, we are studying: (i) the possible role of oscillatory activity in the gamma band (20-80 Hz) for encoding visual stimuli in corticothalamic networks; (ii) the role of corticothalamic feedback. Responses to visual stimuli are recorded from cortex and thalamus with combined intracellular and optical recordings using voltage sensitive dyes and calcium indicators. These two methods are also applied to brain slices in order to understand the dynamics of visual cortex microcircuitry.

We also study the mechanisms by which neural networks engage in the abnormal, paroxystic activity that characterizes epilepsy. We are exploring: (i) the interactions between temporal cortex and hippocampus for the generation of temporal lobe epilepsy; (ii) the role of GABAB responses in cortex for the generation of various patterns of epilepsy, particularly spike-and-wave; (iii) the role of corticothalamic feedback in generation and synchronization of seizures.

Selected Publications

Higley M.J., Contreras D.: Integration of synaptic responses to neighboring whiskers in rat barrel cortex in vivo. Journal of Neurophysiology 93: 1920-1934, 2005.

Traub R.D., Contreras D., Cunningham M.O., Murray H., Lebeau F.E., Roopun A., Bibbig A., Wilent W.B., Higley M., Whittington M.A.: A single-column thalamocortical network model exhibiting gamma oscillations, sleep spindles and epileptogenic bursts. Journal of Neurophysiology 93: 2194-2232, 2005.

Wilent W.B., Contreras D.: Stimulus dependent changes in spike threshold enhance feature selectivity in rat barrel cortex neurons. Journal of Neuroscience 25: 2983-2991, 2005.

Cardin J.A., Palmer L., Contreras, D. : Stimulus-dependent gamma (30-50 Hz) oscillations in simple and complex fast rhythmic bursting cells in primary visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 25: 5339-5350, 2005.

Zou Q., Rudolph M., Roy N., Sanchez-Vives M., Contreras D., Destexhe A.: Reconstructing synaptic background activity from conductance measurements in vivo. Neurocomputing 65-66: 673-678, 2005.

Civillico E.F., Contreras D.: Integration of whisker responses in supragranular barrel cortex studied with optical recordings in vivo. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 31, 2005.

Cardin J.A., Palmer L., Contreras D.: Contrast-dependent variability of the membrane response in primary visual cortex neurons in vivo. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 31, 2005.

Finkel L.H., Contreras D.: Mechanisms of neural computation. Neural Engineering. B. He (eds.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Page: 263-288, 2005.

Fisher J.A., Civillico E.F., Contreras D., Yodh A.G.: In vivo fluorescence microscopy of neuronal activity in three dimensions by use of voltage-sensitive dyes. Optics Letters 29: 71-73, 2004.

Wilent W.B., Contreras D.: Synaptic responses to whisker deflections in rat barrel cortex as a function of cortical layer and stiumulus intensity. Journal of Neuroscience 24: 3985-3998, 2004.

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Last updated: 01/03/2013
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