György Buzsáki (61) was born in Hungary and he graduated (M.D.) from the University of Pecs in 1974. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Academy of Sciences, Budapest in 1984. Currently he is a Board of Governors Professor of Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA. His primary research interest is how neuronal circuits code, transfer and store information, especially how different brain oscillations serve such mechanisms. His two-stage (wake-sleep) model of memory has been supported by research in numerous laboratories world-wide. Dr. Buzsáki is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and he sits on the editorial boards of several leading neuroscience journals, including Science and Neuron.
Awards and Distinguished Lectures
Over the past 35 years György Buzsáki has led the way in analyzing the functional properties of cortical neurons acting within their natural networks. He pioneered the experimental exploration of how coordinated, rhythmic neuronal activity serves physiological functions in the cerebral cortex, and in particular, how information is exchanged between the hippocampus and neocortex. Using technically innovative, multi-site recording probes in behaving animals, he identified the cellular-synaptic basis of theta gamma oscillations and sharp waves with associated fast oscillations, their relationship to each other and to behavior and sleep. He discovered several novel inhibitory cell types in the hippocampus and established the role of the GABAergic basket cells in theta, gamma and ripple oscillations. Through cutting edge intradendritic and somatic recordings in vivo from identified cells, he defined the cellular contributions of neuronal circuits to oscillatory activity and provided a theoretical basis for their role in behavior. The results of these wide ranging experiments led to his most influential work, the two-stage model of memory trace consolidation: the neocortex-mediated information processing during learning transiently modifies hippocampal networks, followed by reactivation and consolidation of these memory traces during later hippocampal sharp wave bursts. His recent breakthrough is the demonstration that in the absence of change in environmental signals, the hippocampal and prefrontal cortical circuits continuously generate self-organized assembly sequences of neuronal activity. Such internally generated sequences have long been thought to be the basis of cognitive functions. Overall, Buzsaki has been constantly seeking a deeper understanding of fundamental questions in the experimentally tractable cognitive powers of the cerebral cortex and has pioneered some of the most difficult approaches necessary to solve these problems. These wide ranging issues have been brought together in a recent book “Rhythms of the Brain”, a masterful account of how cortical cells and circuits give rise to higher cognitive functions.
Current research focus
The main interest of György Buzsáki’s laboratory is how neuronal circuitries of the brain support its cognitive capacities. His continued goal is to provide rational, mechanistic explanations of cognitive functions. According to his view, the most promising area of cognitive faculties for scientific inquiry is memory, since it is a well-circumscribed term, can be studied in animals and substantial knowledge has accumulated about the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity. These fundamental processes have implications for brain diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and depression.