Maria Medalla

Assistant Professor cortical networks in primate cognitive and motor control

  • Title Assistant Professor

    cortical networks in primate cognitive and motor control
  • Office R-903
  • Phone 617-358-1893

Dr. Medalla received her Ph.D. in Applied Anatomy and Physiology at the Boston University Department of Health Sciences in 2008, working with Dr. Helen Barbas to study the structure of ‘cognitive control’ pathways in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of non-human primates. Her studies in this lab were the first to utilize triple-labeling methods for electron microscopy (EM) in primates to characterize the synapses that allow communication between prefrontal areas with distinct roles in cognition. She completed her post-doctoral work on cellular electrophysiological properties of cortical neurons with Dr. Jennifer Luebke, in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine. In this lab, Dr. Medalla studied the physiology and structure of distinct populations of pyramidal neurons and synapses. The goal of these studies was to understand neuronal diversity across distinct cortical areas and the selective vulnerability of neurons in normal aging and neurodegeneration in both primate and mouse animal models. In 2013, Dr. Medalla received a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the National Institute of Mental Health to investigate the electrophysiological and structural properties of specific prefrontal limbic memory- and motor-related areas and pathways in non-human primates.

In her laboratory, Dr. Medalla continues her work on deciphering the pathway-specific structural and physiological properties of distinct cortical circuits in both primate and rodent animal models. She combines cellular in vitro electrophysiological methods with multi-scale anatomic techniques to understand the biophysical and synaptic properties of neurons within functionally-related cortical networks. Her expertise includes patch-clamp recording, pathway tract-tracing, multiple immunohistochemical labeling techniques for light and electron microscopy (EM), 3D serial EM, and confocal microscopy. The major goal of her work is to understand how distinct limbic, sensory and motor networks interact and are controlled by the PFC – the central executive of the brain. Her current focus is on the medial prefrontal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in rhesus monkeys, an area important for attention, emotions and context-to-action transformations, and is selectively disrupted in many affective disorders such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Medalla teaches in several medical (Medical Histology and Medical Neuroscience) and neuroscience graduate courses (Methods in Neuroscience, Cellular and Systems Neuroscience), and serves as a research mentor for Masters and PhD students in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology and the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences. Please contact her directly for research and job opportunities in her laboratory.


Lab: Neural Circuits and Ultrastructure

CV: BU-CV_Medalla_10-2017

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