The brain receives a continuously evolving torrent of inputs from the surrounding sensory environment. Cognitive demands likewise change rapidly during learning and task performance. Rather than use inefficient dedicated neural circuits to process each distinct regime of input, the cerebral cortex is inherently flexible and adapts on a millisecond timescale to changes in environmental context and behavioral requirements. Our goal is to identify the cellular- and circuit-level mechanisms of this flexible function in the cortex and to examine the developmental processes that give rise to neural circuits that permit such flexibility. In recent work using in vivo imaging and electrophysiology, we have identified key roles for dendrite-targeting GABAergic interneurons in the development and mature flexible function of cortical circuits. We find that GABAergic inhibition of interneurons is an important element of state-dependent cortical function. New multimodal imaging approaches provide further insight into the interactions between local and long-range cortical interactions.
Dr. Cardin majored in biology and neuroscience at Cornell University. She pursued doctoral work on the role of behavioral state and neuromodulatory influences on sensory processing at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Marc Schmidt, earning a PhD in neuroscience in 2004. Dr. Cardin went on to complete postdoctoral work on cortical circuits with Dr. Diego Contreras at the University of Pennsylvania and on the role of inhibitory interneurons in cortical activity patterns with Dr. Christopher Moore at MIT. In 2010, she started her lab at Yale University. The Cardin lab uses electrophysiology, imaging, and behavior, along with genetically targeted tools, to examine the development and function of cortical circuits in health and models of neurodevelopment disorders.