Tamás F. Freund
Network of European Neuroscience Institutes (ENI-NET)
Tamas Freund has been involved for over 30 years in functional anatomical studies on cortical microcircuits, employing combinations of immunocytochemistry, electron micorscopy, in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology. His conceptually novel research uncovered: 1) new molecular pathways in the communication of nerve cells, 2) the identity and principles of connectivity of neurons that build up cortical circuitry, and 3) the generation of network activity patterns that underlie various stages of information processing and storage in the brain. He made significant discoveries regarding the structure and function of cortical microcircuits, with particular attention to their inhibitory components, and relationship to oscillations that underlie different stages of memory formation. He discovered that pacemaker neurons in the septal region are GABAergic, inhibitory, and selectively innervate GABAergic interneurons in the hippocampus, thereby synchronizing activity rhythmically at theta frequency. His results in the epilepsy field provided direct evidence for an early loss of inhibitory interneurons. His group discovered that CB1 cannabinoid receptors inhibit neurotransmitter release, and described the structure and operational principles of this circuit breaker in several brain regions. Even though his work is mostly considered basic research in the field of biomedical sciences, his results have considerable relevance to pharmaceutical and clinical research.