Martial DuFour, Ph.D.

I was born and raised in Paris where I got a bachelor degree in Life Science at the University of Paris 5 Descartes. I moved to Marseille to get a post-graduate master’s degree in Neuroscience and did my internship at the Inserm UMR1072 Aix-Marseille University in Dr. Jean-Marc Goaillard’s lab. During this internship I started using electrophysiology to characterize the biophysical properties of several currents of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra.

I became really fascinated with electrophysiology, especially on pacemaker neurons, as it gives the opportunity to “see” live and direct events (action potential, synaptic events…). I did my PhD in the same lab where I worked on the postnatal development of intrinsic properties of rat dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta. I used immunohistochemistry, electrophysiological and morphological analyses to characterize the main developmental transitions leading to the acquisition of the mature electrical phenotype of dopaminergic neurons and to describe some of the biophysical and morphological changes associated with this electrophysiological maturation.

During my PhD, I became interested in understanding how neuronal activity is controlled and encodes specific information and how this information can be processed in neuronal circuit and lead to a functional behavior.

My current project is to understand circuit mechanisms of the CA3 sub-region, an autoassociative network, that computationally supports pattern completion. In particular, spatial representations in CA3 can present stability or undergo transformation in response to increase level of contextual manipulation. I have developed an in vivo head-fixed imaging paradigm to examine pattern separation and completion based population dynamics at cellular and sub-cellular resolution in CA3. I am assessing the dynamics between stability and remapping based plasticity of spatially tuned sequences of CA3 pyramidal neurons during different contextual experiences.