• Green Neuron 13610

The research line in Systems Neurobiology searches for the design principles of biological neural systems

Our quest for general rules is substantiated by the observation that neural circuits evolved to perform specific functions and therefore they are far from random.  General rules must exist, which govern the choice of a biological design in each neural system.

Our lab pursues this quest by investigating specific neural circuits while an animal is making decisions and accomplishing specific behavioral goals. In our experiments, we love to ask questions such as:

  • When is a circuit motif (i.e. feed-forward inhibition vs feedback inhibition, activation vs dis-inhibition) preferable over a different one?
  • On which timescales?
  • Why?
  • How do distinct neural motifs confer robustness to noise?

Although neurobiological systems evolved to function and did not evolve to be intelligible to us, simplifying principles are still desirable to ultimately understand both brain physiology and pathology.


The Systems Neurobiology research line is located in the Center for Neuroscience and Cognitive Systems (CNCS) at IIT Rovereto. The lab is equipped with:

  • In vivo optical imaging (two-photon and one-photon imaging, intra-cranial microendoscopy, intrinsic signal imaging);
  • In vivo electrophysiological (patch-clamp and high-density silicon probes) recordings;
  • In vivo optogenetics and pharmacogenetics;
  • Behavioral analysis (virtual reality, head-fixed decision-making and automatic behavioral parsing in freely behaving animals).


Systems Neurobiology is generously funded by a Career Development Award from the Armenise-Harvard Foundation (3+2 years, $200,000/year) and the IIT Brain Magnet Project


  • Stefano Panzeri, CNCS-IIT Rovereto
  • Bob Datta, Harvard Medical School, Boston