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Van der Heijden Lab

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The Van der Heijden Lab, led by principle investigator Meike van der Heijden, takes a multi-disciplinary approach to study the development of cerebellar function in health and disease.

Maturation of neural signals
The lab is funded to study how abnormal maturation of cerebellar signals causes early onset dystonia, a movement disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions.

Segregation in parallel pathways
The research team is curious how different cerebellar pathways contribute to the development of cerebellar-dependent motor and non-motor behaviors. This project builds on previous work showing that glutamatergic neurons are differentially important for development of social and motor behaviors. This work has implications to understanding why development insults to the cerebellum can cause neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorders or motor impairments in infants.

Propagation of neural signals
Dr. Van der Heijden and her lab want to understand how disease signals in the cerebellum propagate through different nodes in the circuit to cause disease. Most developmental cerebellar disorders are caused by abnormal signals in Purkinje cells. Knowing how this changes downstream neural signals will provide insight in how to correct disease signals and why different disease signals can cause different behavioral impairments.

Meet the Lab