A major goal of our research is to unravel the elusive neurophysiological basis of macroscale functional connectivity as measured with neuroimaging methods, and the underpinnings of its aberrations observed in human brain disorders such as autism spectrum disorders. To achieve these goals, we have pioneered the use of advanced magnetic resonance magnetic (MRI) methods to image the structure and function of the living mouse brain under resting conditions, or upon pharmacological, neuromodulatory or genetic preconditioning. The combined use of high resolution structural and functional MRI (fMRI) defines a novel investigational platform that we have successfully employed to describe the intrinsic organization of the mouse brain in unprecedented detail. As part of this effort we have provided the first demonstration of the presence of a plausible “default mode network” homologue in the mouse brain, and revealed a role for neurodevelopmental processes in connectivity alterations associated o autism. We aim to combine these novel approaches with cell type-specific optogenetic manipulations to establish causal relationship between local activity and its propagation at the systems level.


The Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for:

  • Structural and functional brain Imaging (two-photon scanning microscopes, high resolution microendoscopic probes and optical systems for recording the brain intrinsic signal)
  • Electrophysiology (dual-channel patch-clamp amplifiers and multichannel extracellular amplifiers)
  • Optogenetics (laser sources and optical devices for single- and two-photon patterned excitation)
  • Transgene expression (transgenic Cre-lox models and various gene delivery approaches)


  • Stefano Panzeri, Neural computation lab, IIT
  • Francesco Papaleo, Genetics of Cognition, IIT
  • Ferruccio Pisanello, New Technologies for Neuroscience Research, IIT
  • Raffaella Tonini, Neuromodulation of cortical and subcortical circuits, IIT
  • Massimo Pasqualetti, University of Pisa, Italy
  • Adam James Schwarz, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA
  • Alessandro Usiello, Ceinge Napoli
  • Maria Luisa Scattoni – ISS, Roma