Keywords: Behavioral flexibility, cerebellum, autism spectrum disorder, calcium imaging, electrophysiology, mouse models
Aleksandra’s research focuses on unravelling the function of the cerebellum in health and disease and encompasses two research lines. Line-1 focuses on the mechanisms of cerebellar learning, integrating experimental techniques with computer modelling. In the recent years her work has established that cerebellar activity is essential for motor learning and voluntary behavior and contributed to the development of a computer model that reliably reproduces experimental data and predicts motor impairments based on neural activity. Using intravital two-photon imaging, she discovered that granule cells acquire signals predictive of motor performance. This marked a paradigm shift in the understanding of cerebellar coding as it stands in contrast with long-standing theories of cerebellar processing.
In Line-2, she has been investigating the role of the cerebellum in cognition in general and in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in particular. She showed that cerebellar deficits are common in ASD-mouse-models. By disrupting cerebellar activity during different stages of development, she established a critical period during which cerebellar regions are crucial for non-motor behaviors. The long-term goal of her work is to elucidate the role of cerebellum in ASD. In 2018 Aleksandra was awarded The Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Vidi grant (The Dutch Research Council, ZonMw) to work on understanding the cerebello-cerebral networks underlying shared autistic traits.
Aleksandra is deeply passionate about science communication and outreach and the importance of bringing science from the lab to society. This has been demonstrated by her role as one of the main organizers of the March for Science – NL in 2017 (held in Amsterdam). In her current position as a faculty member of the Department of Neuroscience she has been an active spokesperson for the Erasmus MC neuroscience community.