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Menno Witter was born in The Netherlands in 1953. He did his PhD with professors Anthony Lohman and Fernando Lopes da Silva at the VU University and VU medical center in Amsterdam, where he published the first detailed anatomical account of the organization of the entorhinal cortex, focusing on its role in hippocampal-cortical interactions (1985). After his Ph.D., he worked with David Amaral and Gary VanHoesen in the US (1985/1986) on the organization of the entorhinal-hippocampal system in primates and continued to work as assistant professor in the department of Anatomy at the Vrije University. In 1989 he published two influential papers on the anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, which still are considered 'classics' in the field. In these papers he proposed functional differentiation within the hippocampus and parahippocampus, an issue which is now at the heart of some of the more promising research lines in the hippocampal field. In 1990, together with David Amaral, he initiated the launch of the journal Hippocampus, which, now being in its 19th year, is a major vehicle for communication among scientists in the field. As of 1990, he headed his own research group, focusing on the functional organization of the medial temporal lobe (MTL), in particular in relation to learning and memory and Alzheimer's disease. In 1993, he worked as a visiting scientist and senior consultant with Prof. Dr. G. Matsumoto and Dr. T. Iijima, ETL, Tsukuba, Japan, where he started to use voltage-sensitive dye imaging to study network properties of the hippocampal-parahippocampal system. This powerful approach resulted in the description of networks potentially mediating reverberation, a proposed mechanism for memory storage. This collaboration has continued over the years, focusing on possible interactions between multiple input pathways onto identified neuronal populations.

In 1995, he was appointed as full professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the VU University Medical Center where he continued his work on functional anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, combined with in vivo electrophysiology and human functional MRI studies. He contributed significantly to our understanding of parallel input-output pathways between the parahippocampal region and the hippocampus, and the possibility of functional heterogeneity between hippocampal and parahippocampal subfields as well as within the individual subfields. In addition, on the basis of clinical and experimental data, he published a series of influential papers on the role of the midline and intralaminar thalamus in cognition and its contribution to diencephalic amnesia and frontal syndromes. In 1999 he was appointed as scientific director of the Institute for Neuroscience of the VU/VUmc and as director of the Graduate School Neuroscience Amsterdam. He was one of the founding directors of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research VU/Vumc (2003).

In 2004 he was appointed as visiting professor in the Centre for the Biology of Memory and the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. In 2007 he moved to Trondheim, where he continues his work on functional anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, relevant to memory processes in particular to spatial memory and navigation. He combines anatomical approaches with in vitro electrophysiology. His current research interests include the study of functional differentiation between cell types and cell layers in the entorhinal cortex, structural and connectional differences between the lateral and medial entorhinal cortex and the development of the entorhinal cortex and its connections. He is also involved in human functional MRI studies that focus on understanding functional heterogeneity within the human MTL.



Contact details

Menno Witter, PhD
Professor Neuroscience, Dept. Neuroscience
Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Centre for the Biology of Memory
MTFS, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway
Phone: +47 73598249
Fax: +47 73598294
Email: menno.witter at(@) ntnu.no

pubmed: witter mp[author]

NCBI: db=pubmed; Term=Witter MP[Author] NCBI pubmed
  • Related Articles Postnatal development of functional projections from para- and presubiculum to medial entorhinal cortex in the rat. J Neurosci. 2019 Sep 11;: Authors: Canto CB, Koganezawa N, Lagartos MJD, O'Reilly KC, Mansvelder HD, Witter MP Abstract Neurons in parasubiculum (PaS), presubiculum (PrS) and medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) code for place (grid cells) and head direction. Directional input has been shown to be important for stable grid cell properties in MEC, and PaS and PrS have been postulated to provide this information to MEC. In line with this, head direction cells in those brain areas are present at postnatal day (P)11 having directional tuning that stabilizes shortly after eye-opening, which is before premature grid cells emerge in MEC at P16. Whether functional connectivity between these structures exists at those early postnatal stages is unclear. With the use of anatomical tracing, voltage-sensitive dye imaging and single cell patch recordings in female and male rat brain slices between P2-61, we determined when the pathways from PaS and PrS to MEC emerge, become functional, and how they develop. Anatomical connections from PaS and PrS to superficial MEC emerge between P4-6. Monosynaptic connectivity from PaS and PrS to superficial MEC was measurable from P9-10 onwards, whereas connectivity with deep MEC was measurable from P11-12. From P14/15 on, reactivity of MEC neurons to para- and presubicular inputs becomes adult-like and continues to develop until P28-30. The maturation of the efficacy of both inputs between P9-21 is paralleled by maturation of morphological properties, changes in intrinsic properties of MEC principal neurons and changes in the GABAergic network of MEC. In conclusion, synaptic projections from PaS and PrS to MEC become functional and adult-like before the emergence of grid cells in MEC.Significance statement:Head direction information, crucial for grid cells in medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), is thought to enter MEC via para- (PaS) and presubiculum (PrS). Unraveling the development of functional connections between PaS, PrS and MEC is key to understanding how spatial navigation, an important cognitive function, may evolve. To gain insight into the development, we utilized anatomical tracing techniques, voltage-sensitive dye imaging, and single cell recordings. The combined data led us to conclude that synaptic projections from PaS and PrS to MEC become functional and adult-like before eye-opening, allowing crucial head direction information to influence place encoding before the emergence of grid cells in rat MEC. PMID: 31511428 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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