Laboratory for Cortical Organization and Microstructures

Lab Director: Kathleen Rockland, Ph.D.

The Laboratory of Cortical Organization and Microstructures focuses on the study of cortical white matter neurons and microstructures (cell types, modularity, and columns) in rodent, nonhuman primate, and postmortem human tissues. A developing direction is the neurovascular unit and axon transport in both normal and pathological conditions.

Miho Pletikos
Dr. Mihovil Pletikos


Michael rockland lab
Michael Masset, UROP student

collosal axons rockland

Research Collaborations

BUSM: Douglas Rosene and Farzad Mortazavi  SlideWM

Regional diversity of cortical white matter (WM) neurons in adult and infant rhesus monkey

White matter (WM) neurons are a mixed population of excitatory and inhibitory neurons, that are phylogenetically conserved and have important roles in early cortical development. In primates and other species with large gyrencephalic brains, substantial numbers of WM neurons persist in the adult, where they are thought to contribute to multiple processes, including vascular regulation and hemodynamic changes, coordination of corticocortical and thalamocortical communication, and central cholinergic circuitry. This project aims to acquire quantitative data about regional and cell-type distribution of WM neurons in the adult rhesus monkey and their fall-off in the infant, with the additional aim of developing a nonhuman primate model for further investigations of WM neuron function, with relevance for normal and abnormal human brain function.

MGH : Jean Augustinack and David Boas
Visualizing cortical microstructures by optical coherence tomography (OCT)  Slide1

Human neuroanatomy has long suffered from methodological limitations, where in vivo MRI images fall short of cellular-level resolution but traditional histology, despite better resolution, is prone to processing distortions and is almost impractically labor-intensive at a large scale. Optical coherence tomography (OCT), in a novel application to postmortem brain tissue, is a new bridge approach that produces histology-level images and can facilitate higher-resolution interpretation of MRI images. As an essential prerequisite, the current project aims to achieve a cellular-level evaluation of OCT images by generating, registering, and comparing matched OCT-histology datasets, where small tissue blocks are first imaged by OCT and subsequently sectioned and processed by traditional histology and immunocytochemistry for specific cell and myelin markers.

Human entorhinal cortex, imaged by OCT (A-E; composite image in F) and Nissl.
From Magnain et al., 2015

Magnain, C., Augustinack, J.C., Reuter, M., Wachinger, C., Frosch, M.P., Ragan, T., Akkin, T., Wedeen, V.J., Boas, D.A., and Fischl, B. (2014) Blockface histology with optical coherence tomography: A comparison with Nissl staining. Neuroimage 84: 524-533.


Recent Publications

Rockland, K.S.  What do we know about laminar connectivity?  Neuroimage 2017; xx: 1-13.

Mortazavi, F., Wang, X., Rosene, D.L., and Rockland, K.S. White matter neurons in young adult and aged rhesus monkey. Frontiers Neuroanatomy 2016; 10:15.

Rockland, K.S. About Connections. Frontiers Neuroanatomy 2015; 9:61.

Kim, Y., Venkataraju, K.U., Pradhan, K., Mende, C., Taranda, J., Turaga, S.C., Arganda-Carreras, I., Ng, L., Mawrylycz, M.J., Rockland, K.S., Seung, H.S., and Osten, P. Mapping social behavior-induced brain activation at cellular resolution in the mouse. Cell Rep. 2015; 10: 292-305.

For more publications, see Dr. Rockland’s faculty page