Christos Constantinidis

Vanderbilt University

Dr. Constantinidis obtained his Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from the University of Athens, Greece. He there received annual awards from the Greek National Fellowship Foundation for four consecutive years. He then, obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins, School of Medicine. He followed up with a postdoctoral fellowship in Neuroscience at the prestigious laboratory of Patricia-Goldman Rakic, at Yale School of Medicine, where he studied the role of intrinsic prefrontal circuits in working memory. He continued this work in his own laboratory by focusing to understand the type of information represented in prefrontal cortex during the maintenance of working memory, how these mechanisms determine behavior, along with the functional organization of prefrontal circuits that endow it with these properties. Dr. Constantinidis' lab at Vanderbilt University focuses on how neuronal activity in the cerebral cortex gives rise to cognitive functions designing behavioral tasks, acquiring experimental data via neurophysiological recordings and imaging, and computational analysis of the results. His lab focuses primarily on non-human primate models, but also in translational research by trying to unravel the knowledge gained from these experiments for the benefit of human conditions in which cognitive functions have been compromised. Additional specific areas of research in Dr. Constantinidis’ lab include: Role of long-distance cortical circuits in cognitive function. Lesion, imaging, and neurophysiological results suggest a unique role for the prefrontal cortex in higher cognitive functions. However, responses of single neurons are quite similar to those in other cortical areas, such as the posterior parietal cortex, in the context of a wide range of tasks. Dr. Constantinidis takes a multi-pronged approach to identify the physiological responses of neurons at different nodes of this large-scale circuit, and to understand the role of connections between areas. Cognitive Training. A long-standing research program in the Constantinidis laboratory has sought to understand how neuronal responses are altered by training in a cognitive task. His lab approaches this question through neurophysiological recordings with movable and implantable arrays of electrodes in initially naïve monkeys. They have generated significant findings, regarding the incorporation of task information on prefrontal activity and the nature of reorganization of the prefrontal cortex. Neural Basis of Cognitive Development. Recent experiments in Dr. Constantinidis laboratory recorded neurophysiological activity in male non-human primates as they transitioned from the time of puberty to adulthood with the goal to understand how changes in the activity of prefrontal neurons occur. Experiments revealed profound differences in behavioral performance, neuronal activity, and intrinsic connectivity of the prefrontal cortex between the time of puberty and adulthood. Cognitive rehabilitation through cholinergic drugs and deep brain stimulation. Dr. Constantinidis’ lab investigats the effects of cholinergic agents and the effects of stimulation of the nucleus basalis, the main source of cortical acetylcholine with the goal to understand the effects of cholinergic drugs in reversing cognitive decline in normal aging but also in pathological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Neurophysiological recordings were performed by a chronically implanted array of microelectrodes over the prefrontal cortex during the systemic administration of cholinergic agents and deep brain stimulation in a non-human primate model. Dr. Constantinidis is the recipient of several NIH (currently has 5 RO1s) and private foundation grants, such as the Whitehall Foundation, McDonnell-Pew Foundation, Program in Cognitive Neuroscience Award EMBO felllow award, New Investigator in Basic Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine Award, and the Mid-Career Investigator in Basic Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine Award.