Graduate Program in Neuroscience

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Arianna Maffei


Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pavia

Phone: (631) 632-3244
Fax: (631) 632-6661

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Arianna Maffei attended the University of Pavia, Italy, and received a Ph.D. in 2001. She was a postdoctoral scholar at Brandeis University from 2002 to 2008. In 2008 she joined the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology & Behavior at Stony Brook. She has served as Ad Hoc reviewer for the Journal of Neurophysiology, the Journal of Neuroscience, Brain Research, and Neuropsychopharmacology. She was a member of the Italian Society of Physiology from 1998 to 2002 and is currently a member of the Society for Neuroscience.

Research Interests/Expertise

Laboratory of neural circuits and plasticity

Regulating excitability in response to the interaction with the external and internal world is a fundamental property of neural circuits and determines the basis for development and adaptability of behavioral responses in the face of a continuously changing environment. Neural plasticity has been proposed as one of the mechanisms involved in this process. Recent years showed a great advance in our understanding of the cellular and behavioral correlates of plasticity. These approaches, however, depend on very different levels of analysis, and are often hard to relate to each other.
In the lab we are interested in the analysis of local microcircuits and their plasticity as a way to bridge the gap between cellular and behavioral neuroscience. In particular the work investigates how synaptic changes induced by experience lead to functional rearrangements of cortical microcircuits. To study synaptic plasticity with an integrative, circuit-oriented, approach we record from multiple identified pre and postsynaptic cells and study the properties of their monosynaptic connections (paired recordings). This allows to break down the circuit and to selectively analyze the different types of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Another major focus of the lab is a recently described form of inhibitory LTP (LTPi) whose mechanisms and functional role are currently unknown. This is likely one of the important synaptic mechanisms involved in regulating developmental processes and experience dependent plasticity.
The overall goal of our research is to gain insights into general, and specific, principles of proper circuit wiring during development and identify potential therapeutic targets for treatment or rehabilitative procedures of pathological conditions.

  • Publications
  • Laboratory Personnel
    • L.Wang, A. Fontanini and A.Maffei (2011) Visual experience modulates spatio-temporal dynamics of circuit activation. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 5:12
    • A.Maffei (2011) The many forms and functions of inhibitory synaptic plasticity. Neural Plasticity. Article ID 254724, 9 pages.
    • M. Stone, A.Maffei and A. Fontanini (2011) Characterization of amygdalar inputs onto gustatory cortical neurons. Front. Integr. Neurosci. 5:3
    • M. A. Woodin and A. Maffei (2011) “Plasticity of inhibitory synapses” Multi-authors book. Springer, New York.
    • L. Wang and A.Maffei (2011) Plasticity of inhibitory synapses and circuit stability. Chapter in “Plasticity of inhibitory synapses” edited by M. A. Woodin and A. Maffei for Springer, New York.
    • A.Maffei, M.E.Lambo and GG Turrigiano (2010) Developmental regulation of experience-dependent inhibitory plasticity. J.Neurosci. 30: 3304- 3309.
    • A. Fontanini and A. Maffei (2009) Homeostatic regulation of excitation and inhibition Curr. Op Neurobiol. 19: 1
    • A.Maffei and GG Turrigiano (2008) Multiple forms of network homeostasis in a neocortical microcircuit. J. Neurosci. 28: 4377-4384
    • A.Maffei and G.G.Turrigiano (2008) The age of plasticity: developmental regulation of synaptic plasticity in neocortical microcircuits Prog. Brain Res. 169: 211-223
    • A.Maffei, K. Nataraj, SB Nelson and GG Turrigiano (2006) Potentiation of cortical inhibition by visual deprivation. Nature 443: 81- 84
    • VS Dani, Q Chang, A Maffei, GG Turrigiano, R Jaenisch and SB Nelson (2005) Reduced cortical activity due to a shift in the balance between excitation and inhibition in a mouse model of Rett Syndrome. PNAS 102: 12560-5
    • A.Maffei, SB Nelson and GG Turrigiano (2004) Selective rewiring of layer 4 intracortical circuitry by visual deprivation. Nature Neurosci. 7: 1353-59
  • Yury Garkun, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Trevor Griffen, Graduate Student
  • Lang Wang, Postdoctoral Associate
  • Melissa Haley, Graduate Student
  • Michelle Kloc, Graduate Student