Werner Reichardt Centrum für Integrative Neurowissenschaften (CIN)

Neural Circuits and Behavior

How Neuronal Circuits Control Behaviour

The long term goal of our research is to reach a mechanistic understanding of how anatomically-defined neuronal circuits contribute to cognitive representations and behavior.

We mainly focus on the rodent spatial memory system as a model for understanding how cognitive functions - like internal representation of external space - can emerge from the underlying circuit structure. The experimental accessibility of internally-generated patterns of activity (i.e. place cells and grid cells) offers an unprecedent opportunity for exploring the mechanisms of a “cognitive map of space” at the cellular, circuit and synaptic level.


We have developed (Burgalossi et al., Neuron 2011) and further optimized (e.g. Tang et al., Nature Protocols 2014; Diamantaki et al., Cell Reports 2018) a juxtacellular recording method, which allows morphological identification and stimulation of single neurons in freely-moving rodents (rats and mice). We employ single-cell identification and single-cell stimulation techniques for gaining insights into the structural correlates and plasticity of spatial coding in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit. Our single-cell approach is currently complemented with more standard optogenetic and extracellular recording techniques.

Selected Publications

  • Blanco-Hernández, E., Balsamo, G., Preston-Ferrer, P. Burgalossi A. Sensory and behavioral modulation of thalamic head-direction cells. Nature Neuroscience, 2024. (View here)
  • Ding L, Balsamo G, Diamantaki M, Preston-Ferrer P, Burgalossi A. Opto-juxtacellular interrogation of neural circuits in freely-moving mice. Nature Protocols, 2023; 18, 2415–2440. (View here)
  • Hodapp A, Kaiser ME, Thome C, Ding L, Rozov A, Klumpp M, Stevens N, Stingl M, Sackmann T, Lehmann N, Draguhn A, Burgalossi A, Engelhardt M, Both M. Dendritic axon origin enables information gating by perisomatic inhibition in pyramidal neurons. Science, 2022; 377, 1448-1452. 
  • Balsamo G, Blanco-Hernández E, Coletta S, Liang L, Naumann A, Burgalossi A#, Preston-Ferrer P#. Modular microcircuit organization of the presubicular head-direction map. Cell Reports, 2022; 39: 110684.
  • Ding L, Balsamo G, Chen H, Zouridis I, Naumann R, Preston-Ferrer P, Burgalossi A Juxtacellular opto-tagging of hippocampal CA1 neurons in freely-moving mice. eLife, 2022; 11: e71720.