Prof. Hanoch Kaphzan
Sagol department of Neurobiology
The Lab for Neurobiology of Psychiatric Disorders focuses on two main subjects. We explore molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying various psychiatric disorders by using genetic mice models. Our vision is that the impairments in the basis of these disorders are related not only to synaptic changes, but also to intrinsic ones, mainly excitability alterations, and our focus is on the axon initial segment. Our current focus is on autism, schizophrenia and depression. A more specific focus is on genetic mice models of autistic disorders such as Angelman syndrome and Rett syndrome. We aim to reveal the neurobiological basis of these psychiatric disorders by using interdisciplinary approach. The lab also focuses on the basic processes underlying the effects of trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). We investigate the molecular and cellular effects of small electrical fields on individual neurons and neuron ensembles. We employ DC fields in vitro and in vivo and examine the consequent activation of molecular pathways and excitability and synaptic alterations in response to these manipulations. This exploration will decipher the processes and effects of ephaptic transmission in neurons. The techniques employed by the lab are extracellular and intracellular electrophysiology in slices, confocal and multiphoton imaging of fixed and live tissues, viral transfections, and basic molecular and biochemical methods. Part of the lab will pursue clinical research in psychiatry. Our aim is to focus on clinical issues that face difficulties in the treatment of various psychiatric disorders. Our therapeutic approach is by employing novel pharmacotherapeutic strategies and tDCS, (each approach alone or a combination of the two). This type of studies will enhance our comprehension of the psychopathological mechanisms underlying the specific psychiatric disorders, and also enable to optimize novel therapeutic strategies in order to alleviate the symptoms in these psychiatric disorders.