My primary research interest was the study of neuronal plasticity in the context of grafting embryonic dopaminergic neurones in animal models of Parkinson disease. Then I focused on a novel form of structural plasticity: adult neurogenesis. The discovery that new neurons are created in discrete regions of the adult mammalian brain –including human’s-, such as the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampal formation (HF), has been a breakthrough in the field of neural plasticity and memory. Indeed, the HF is involved in learning and memory and is vulnerable to the effect of aging, stress, and addiction.
These last years, my research has been dedicated to study the role of adult neurogenesis in the physiology and pathophysiology of hippocampal-dependant behavior. We have demonstrated that : 1) adult-born hippocampal neurons are key players in memory, 2) neurogenesis is involved in the appearance of age-related memory deficits and an optimization of neurogenesis postpones age-related disorders, 3) adult neurogenesis is sensitive to early life events, which could be one of the mechanisms by which environment shapes an individual’s behavioral profile and accelerates the appearance of age-related disorders, 4) spatial learning finely regulates neurogenesis and an alteration of this process is observed in aged rats with impaired spatial memory abilities. Finally, our results revealed a key role of adult neurogenesis in addiction- and anxiety- like behaviors.
Our project is in line with our previous activities and will attempt to understand when and how adult born neurons impact memory. This research will provide a thorough understanding of the role of neurogenesis in memory and should allow developing new therapeutic strategies and tools to alleviate memory pathologies.