Faculty » Edward Zagha

Focus: cortical circuit and cellular mechanisms of sensory detection and impulse control.

As we navigate the world around us, we are constantly bombarded with sensory stimuli. Instead of responding reflexively to each stimulus, a number of cognitive processes enable us to selectively and meaningfully interact with our surroundings. Such processes include impulse control, attention, expectation and predictive timing. Our laboratory studies the cellular and circuit-level mechanisms in cortex that underlie these cognitive processes. We conduct our studies in mice, enabling us to combine behavioral, physiological and genetic approaches. Below are examples of ongoing research projects in our lab.

Project 1: The cellular organization of cortical circuits underlying impulse control
From behavioral and suppression studies, we identified a region of motor cortex that is required for impulse control (Zagha et al., 2015). How do different types of cortical neurons organize to form the underlying circuit? We predict that different cortical populations make unique contributions to circuit dynamics and behavior.

Project 2: Cortical feedback contributions to sensory detection
We recently found that activation of the motor-to-sensory cortical feedback pathway improves sensory coding, in part by modulating cortical state (Zagha et al., 2013, 2016). We predict that this mechanism is important for enhancing detection of expected stimuli.

Selected Publications

Zagha E, Murray JD, McCormick D. Simulating Cortical Feedback Modulation as Changes in Excitation and Inhibition in a Cortical Circuit Model. eNeuro. 2016 Aug 31:3(4)

Zagha E, Ge X, McCormick D. Competing neural ensembles in motor cortex gate goal-directed motor output. Neuron. 2015 Nov 4:88(3):565–577

McGinley M, Vinck M, Reimer J, Batista-Brito R, Zagha E, Cadwell C, Tolias A, Cardin J, McCormick D. Waking State: Rapid Variations Modulate Neural and Behavioral Responses. Neuron. 2015 Sept 23;87(6): 1143–1161

Salkoff D, Zagha E, Yuzgec O, McCormick, D. Synaptic mechanisms of tight spike synchrony at gamma frequency in cerebral cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 2015 Jul 5;35(28):10236-51

Zagha E, McCormick D. Neural control of brain state. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2014 Oct; 10(29):178-186

Zagha E, Casale A, Sachdev R, McGinley M, McCormick D. Motor cortex feedback influences sensory processing by modulating network state. Neuron. 2013 Aug 7;79(3):567-78. Previewed in Harris KD. Top-Down Control of Cortical State. Neuron, same issue.

Lee S, Hjerling-Leffler J, Zagha E, Fishell G, Rudy B. The largest group of superficial neocortical GABAergic interneurons expresses ionotropic serotonin receptors. Journal of Neuroscience. 2010 Dec 5;30(50):16796-808.