Dr. Emilio Kropff, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory Neuronal Plasticity at the Leloir Institute, CONICET.
Kropff graduated in physics at the University of Buenos Aires in 2003. Later, he did a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience in Italy. Between 2008 and 2011, he worked in Norway under the direction of Edvard and May-Britt Moser, winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering circuit neurons that function as an “internal GPS” in the brain. These neurons encode the space in a more abstract way that the cells identified by O’Keefe, something like a coordinate system that allow precise positioning and pathfinder in any environment, he added. The team found that about 15 percent of the neurons in an area of the cerebral cortex involved in memory and orientation (entorhinal cortex) is devoted exclusively to determine the speed of movement. These are the “speed cells”. This discovery helps to slowly rebuild all brain circuits dedicated to the memory and spatial orientation, two closely linked capabilities that are compromised in some diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Dr. Kropff and his team collaborate with the Fondecyt project to elucidate the mechanisms that allow the operation of the internal GPS in the degu.