The objectives of the INT are to carry out world class research in fundamental neurosciences, from cellular to cognitive levels, and to fill the gap between fundamental and clinical approaches. The integrative neurosciences, bridging levels of organization of the nervous system within a functional approach, play an essential role in the understanding of the neural underpinnings of our behaviour and of their dysfunctions in neurological and psychiatric diseases. By combining these various approaches, the INT offers its researchers and clinicians opportunities to:
Investigate and model normal and pathological brain and spinal cord function with an integrative approach going from neuron to behaviour and from neurophysiology to multi-scale imaging. For a given function (visual perception, corticospinal motor control, motivation, social cognition), the ultimate goal is to understand how neuronal activity is regulated at the cellular level then propagated by small cortical or sub-cortical networks and assembled within large systems
Elucidate the neuronal code: understand how the dynamics of the large and small neuronal networks may explain integrated behavior such as visual perception, affect and emotion, or hand and eye movements control
- Understand how the dysfunctions or the cellular death of neurons and glial cells provoke neurological or psychiatric disorders such as the pathologies of motoneurons (SLA), lesions of the spinal cord (spasticity), disorders of executive control (including addictions, Parkinson’s disease), pathologies of cognitive and social development (autism, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia), or pathologies associated with stress (post-traumatic stress, depression).To do so, we focus on an integrative approach going from cellular and animal models to patients (exploration of functional magnetic resonance imaging, behavioral analysis)
Finally, training and courses in integrative neurosciences (Master’s degree, PhD Program) are one of the priorities of the Institute which aims to offer a doctoral training that promotes an open and inter-disciplinary environment to young scientists and clinicians in order to combine technical excellence, curiosity and a taste of research.
The Institute has moved to its new 4500m2 building in november 2011. It is located on the "La Timone" campus of the Aix-Marseille Medical School.
The building has been designed to promote interactions between research teams working at different integration levels of the nervous system and to regroup modern scientific equipments in large technical facilities where laboratory space is shared by several teams. The 5 main technical facilities are dedicated to each integrative level: cognitive neuroscience, non-human primate neurophysiology, behavioral neuroscience and cellular neuroscience). Several resources are shared by all INT members such as the A1 animal facility, the In Vivo photonic imaging platform, the fMRI Center as well as electronic and mechanic workshops. The Institute operates a central computing resource hosting a 48 nodes cluster and a 200To mass storage. When designing each technical facility, the emphasis was put on standardization of laboratory spaces in order to promote space sharing and dynamical reallocation depending upon the evolution of each team. The idea was also to promote the exchange of technical expertise between scientists and technicians, across teams.
The renovation of the building was operated by the Aix-Marseille Université from 2008 to 2011. The total cost was of 15M€, funded by CNRS, Région PACA, Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhone, Ville de Marseille and INSERM. European funding was obtained to upgrade shared technical and scientific equipments from the FEDER funds.
The Timone campus is located downtown Marseille, next to the main University Hospital (CHU Timone) that regroups most of the clinical units for neurology, neurosurgery and pediatrics. The CHU also offers access to an unique plaftorm for biomedical imaging with several MRI scanners devoted to research (3T and 7T for clinical research, 9.5T for animal research at the CRMBM, MEG with INS and CT-scan with CERIMED). The 3T fMRI Center for neurosciences that is operated by the Institute is located at the Hospital.