Behaviorally relevant brain states such as network oscillations and selection of cell assemblies are controlled by the coordinated action of inhibitory interneurons. Different subclasses of inhibitory interneurons control the excitation of pyramidal cells with distinctive timing and subcellular specificity of innervation. However, the control exerted by inhibition on neuronal networks also strongly relies on the properties and theplasticity of inhibitory synapses. The main goal of my research is to elucidate the biophysical and molecular mechanisms responsible for the modulation of the inhibitory GABAergic signaling, with an eye toward understanding how inhibition shapes in vivo brain states. Specifically, my Laboratory focuses on i) the postsynaptic molecular mechanisms of plasticity at GABAergic synapses; ii) the mechanisms of interplay between excitation and inhibition at single synapse level; and iii) the role of inhibitory synaptic plasticity in visual learning in vivo. We study synaptic function using an array of cutting-edge imaging/optical techniques including Single Particle Tracking (SPT), optogenetics (Light-gated Glutamate Receptors), fast live confocal microscopy and diffraction limited UV laser photolysis of caged neurotransmitters, as well as electrophysiology, molecular biology and in vivo manipulations.


The Barberis’ Lab is equipped for electrophysiology, single particle tracking technique, fast confocal microscopy (spinning disk) and optical techniques including optogenetics (Light-Gated glutamate receptors) and UV laser neurotransmitter photorealease in diffraction limited spots. Moreover, Barberis Lab has workspace for immunocytochemistry, cell culture and organotypic slices preparations, viral production, genotyping/sequencing, molecular biology and 150 cages in the IIT animal house.


  • Marti Duocastella and Alberto Diaspro  (NAPH dept, IIT), 3D fast particle tracking
  • Francesca Cella and Alberto Diaspro (NAPH dept, IIT), PALM at GABAergic synapses
  • Paolo Medini (Umea University, Sweden), In vivo inhibitory plasticity
  • Pau Gorostiza (IBEC, Barcelona, Spain), Photoswitchable ionotropic receptors