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Diego Andrés Laplagne

Diego Andrés Laplagne

Associate Professor, Brain Institute - Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN)
Laboratory: Behavioral Neurophysiology
Lattes: http://lattes.cnpq.br/0293416967746987
E-mail: diego@neuro.ufrn.br
Areas of interest: Systems neuroscience / Behavior

M.Sc. in Biology at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2002. Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008, studying adult neurogenesis in mice with ex-vivo electrophysiology. Postdoc at the International Neuroscience Institute of Natal, Brasil, 2009, studying sensory coding with in-vivo electrophysiology. Independent research position (Neuroscience Fellow) at The Rockefeller University, New York, USA, from 2009 to 2013 studying vocal communication in rats. Since 2013, professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil.

Nervous systems evolved as mediators of a sensory-motor loop, orchestrating behavioral outputs as appropriate responses to the environmental conditions read by the senses. A fundamental goal of neuroscience is, thus, to understand how brain circuits work to sustain perception and organize behavior. Much progress has been made by recording brain activity in model animals performing structured and reproducible sensory-motor tasks. This approach allows the experimenter to perform statistical analysis of neuronal correlates under well-controlled conditions. This, however, comes at a cost, as both stimuli and behavior are restricted and forced out of the natural range under which brain function evolved. Modern recording and analysis techniques are driving a new wave of ethology, allowing the study of natural behaviors in freely moving animals under strict quantitative analysis. Our lab aims at contributing to the understanding of mammalian brain function by developing new approaches for the rigorous study of such behaviors together with distributed recordings of neuronal activity.

We are studying in this way vocal communication with rats as model animals. Rats produce vocalizations that span the frequency range from the sonic to the ultrasonic. Above 30 kHz, rats produce a rich repertoire of vocalizations spanning a wide range of frequency, modulation and duration. The role these calls play in social behavior is however largely unknown. We have developed methods to automatically record and analyze ultrasonic vocalizations from pairs of interacting rats and are now studying its structuring within and between rats. We are also simultaneously monitoring the behavior and physiology of emitters and receivers of these calls to understand their function.

Our quantitative study of vocalizations pointed us to the possible existence of global rhythms in the rat, involving both periodic motor rhythms and neuronal oscillations at similar rates. We are now developing methodologies to put this to the test by the combined recording of about a dozen motor and neuronal activities from freely behaving animals. We hope this approach will shed light on the evolution and function of neuronal oscillations in the brain.


Laplagne DA and Elías Costa M (2016) Rats Synchronize Locomotion with Ultrasonic Vocalizations at the Subsecond Time Scale. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 10:184. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00184
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Isaac M. Carruthers, Diego Laplagne, Andrew Jaegle, John Briguglio, Laetitia Mwilambwe-Tshilobo, Ryan G. Natan, Maria N. Geffen. Emergence of invariant representation of 2 vocalizations in the auditory cortexArticles in PresS. J Neurophysiol (August 26, 2015). doi:10.1152/jn.00095.2015
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Sirotin, Y. B., Elias Costa, M., & Laplagne, D. A. (Submitted). Active sniffing temporally structures ultrasonic vocalizations in rodents.

Assini, R., Sirotin, Y. B., & Laplagne, D. A. (2013). Rapid triggering of vocalizations following social interactions. Current Biology, 23(22), R996–7. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.007

Vasconcelos, N. ; Pantoja, J. ; Belchior, H. ; Caixeta, F. V. ; Faber, J. ; Freire, M. A. M. ; Cota, V. R. ; Anibal de Macedo, E. ; Laplagne, D. A. ; Gomes, H. M. ; RIBEIRO, S. . Cross-modal responses in the primary visual cortex encode complex objects and correlate with tactile discrimination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, v. 108, p. 15408-15413, 2011.
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Toni, N., Laplagne, D. A., Zhao, C., Lombardi, G., Ribak, C. E., Gage, F. H., & Schinder, A. F. (2008). Neurons born in the adult dentate gyrus form functional synapses with target cells. Nature Neuroscience, 11(8), 901–7. doi:10.1038/nn.2156

Laplagne, D. A., Kamienkowski, J. E., Espósito, M. S., Piatti, V. C., Zhao, C., Gage, F. H., & Schinder, A. F. (2007). Similar GABAergic inputs in dentate granule cells born during embryonic and adult neurogenesis. European Journal of Neuroscience, 25(10), 2973–2981.

Laplagne, D. A., Espósito, M. S., Piatti, V. C., Morgenstern, N. A., Zhao, C., van Praag, H., Gage, F. H., Schinder, A. F. (2006). Functional Convergence of Neurons Generated in the Developing and Adult Hippocampus. PLoS Biology, 4(12), e409.

Esposito, M., Piatti, V., Laplagne, D., & NA. (2005). Neuronal differentiation in the adult hippocampus recapitulates embryonic development. Journal of, 25(44), 10074–10086.

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