Research Project

Our research is based on a confrontation between phenomenological and psychopathological studies of disorders involving the BG, using anatomical, behavioural, and physiological data. Precise anatomical locations of both electrophysiological and imaging data, using an original histological 3D atlas, allow us to model the different circuits involved and their interactions. New therapeutic hypotheses are tested in parallel through clinical trials and animal experiments.
Our innovative translational approaches also includes studies on rodent models of OCD (e.g. SAPAP3 KO mice) to provide original data in the perspective of enlightening the neurocognitive bases of compulsivity and the therapeutical mechanism involved in STN-DBS. We use optogenetic technics simultaneously with electrophysiological single-unit recording in freely moving animals performing behavioural tasks to focus on the role of the limbic cortical-subthalamic tracts, known as the hyperdirect pathway, in the processes that could underlie compulsive behaviours (e.g. flexibility and/or checking).
This research program is carried out in healthy human volunteers and in patients with Parkinson’s Disease, Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Cocaine Dependence, included in experimental clinical protocols that are promoted by institutional authorities (AP-HP, Inserm, CNRS) and agreed upon by local ethic committees.

Our main axes or research

  • Behavioral, electrophysiological and anatomical approaches of information processing in the subthalamic nucleus
  • Multiscale integration of electrophysiological recordings and atlas-based anatomy in the human basal ganglia
  • Exploration of repetitive behaviors in human and rodents combining experimental psychology, functional neuroimaging.
  • Therapeutic innovations:
    • Evaluation of new Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques using experimental paradigms
    • Development of innovative neurosurgical treatments using deep brain stimulation in neuropsychiatric diseases: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Tourette Syndrome, Depression
    • Evaluation of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    • Identification of electrophysiological biomarkers using optogenetics to develop closed loop stimulation strategy

Techniques used

  • Experimental psychology and functional neuroimaging;
  • Intracranial electrophysiological recordings of single-unit neuronal activity and local field potentials;
  • Three-dimensional (3D) atlas and high field anatomical MRI; diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI);
  • Voxel-based morphometry (VBM);
  • Development of imaging and stereotactic tools for DBS;
  • Multiscale integration of functional data and atlas-based anatomy in the human basal ganglia;
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS);
  • Animal models and experimental therapeutics (rodents, primates);
  • Optogenetic approaches and design of new viral vector specifically targeting the hyperdirect pathway;
  • High throughput electrophysiological and behavioural acquisition system for animal models studies.