Department of Neuroscience
Sven Kroener, Ph.D.
MA, Psychology, 1996, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
Ph.D., Psychology, 2000, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany
Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2000-2003, University of Pittsburgh
Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2004-2005, MUSC
My research interests relate to the organization and the functional properties of the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and its interplay with other brain regions in learning and memory.
An important cognitive feature of higher organisms is their ability to temporarily structure their behavior and to actively hold in mind information relevant for goal-attainment. This so called "working memory" is closely related to the functions of the prefrontal cortex and its innervation by dopaminergic fibers.
Pathological dysfunctions that disrupt the intrinsic circuitry of the PFC and impair working memory have been implicated in numerous mental illnesses, most notably schizophrenia. More recently, the importance of the PFC in executive functions and behavioral flexibility have also made it a focus for studies into the mechanisms that underlie drug addiction.
I study the network properties that underlie the persistent neuronal activity required for working memory, using electrophysiological recordings and high-resolution calcium-imaging. I am particularly interested in the functional role of inhibition in the PFC circuit, and how the activity of GABAergic interneurons (which have been identified as a main locus of change in schizophrenia) is modulated by dopamine. Projects in my laboratory also examine how drugs of abuse (specifically cocaine and alcohol) can alter PFC networks to cause deficits in persistent activity and other longer lasting forms of learning and memory.