Searching for a word, forgetting an event, losing focus quickly, these are all features that accompany dementia, a disease which affects almost 50 million people worldwide. In Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, cholinergic neurons in the basal forebrain progressively die. Not surprisingly, these neurons are considered to play an important role in cognitive functions, such as learning and attention.
Deep under the cortical surface lies the basal forebrain where scattered cholinergic neurons are intermingled with a much greater number of other types of neurons, a deterring combination of obstacles for any experimenter to study them. Not for Balázs Hangya, who decided to decipher neuronal codes of these very special population. Using cutting edge techniques including high-throughput behavioral assays in rodents, multichannel extracellular recordings, optogenetic cell type specific identification and manipulations, combined with sophisticated analytic methods, he tries to understand how these neurons contribute to learning.
Having graduated in medicine at Semmelweis University in 2006, and in Probability Theory and Statistics at Eötvös Loránd University in 2007, he joined Tamás Freund’s group at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, where he received his PhD. He then joined the Kepecs lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, USA, where he studied the role of the basal forebrain cholinergic system in attention and learning. He returned to Hungary and established the Lendület Laboratory of Systems Neuroscience in 2015.
You will hear more about Balázs’s research at HuNDoC 2020, as our invited speaker. Balázs will also be a guest of the Career Forum.
Here are some links to read in advance about Balázs’s research (some of them only in Hungarian):
Lendület Laboratory of Systems Neuroscience
Balázs as a FENS-Kavli Scholar
Interview after receiving ERC Starting Grant
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