The laboratory researches the genetic basis of our ability to adapt to and learn from sensory and emotional experiences. The team at the Spiegel Lab seeks to identify the genomic and transcriptional mechanisms through which neural circuits adapt to experience, and to understand how the cellular functions that are regulated by these molecular mechanisms generate an animal’s adaptive behavior.
They are particularly interested in how sensory and behavioral state-dependent experiences, such as vision and locomotion, are integrated to control the plasticity of neural circuits. In their research, they focus on types of neurons in the cortex that are associated with disorders such as autism disorders (ASD) and schizophrenia, and they apply genomic, molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological, in vivo imaging and behavioral approaches to understand how experience-induced transcriptional networks in these neurons regulate the connectivity and function of the cortex. Researchers believe this will allow them to untangle how nature and nurture cooperate to regulate adaptive behavior and to understand how mutations in the genome might give rise to psychiatric disorders.
Dr. Spiegel returned to the Weizmann Institute, where he received his MSc and PhD in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, as a member of the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology.
Born in Basel, Switzerland, Dr. Spiegel moved to Israel after high school. He attended Tel Aviv University, where he first became fascinated with molecular and cellular biology and neuroscience. He originally devoted his career to neuronal cell biology, but during his postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School, he chose to shift to the challenging question of how gene regulation programs control circuit formation in the brain.
At Weizmann, Dr. Spiegel has established his own independent research group, called “How Experience Regulates Brain Function.” The lab uses a highly multidisciplinary approach which continues to be highly praised.