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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 Inhibitory connectivity dominates the fan cell network in layer II of lateral entorhinal cortex. J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 24;: Authors: Nilssen ES, Jacobsen B, Fjeld G, Nair RR, Blankvoort S, Kentros C, Witter MP Abstract Fan cells in layer II of the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC) form a main component of the projection to the dentate gyrus, CA3 and CA2 of the hippocampal formation. This projection has a counterpart originating from stellate cells in layer II of the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). Available evidence suggests that the two pathways carry different information, exemplified by a difference in spatial tuning of cells in LEC and MEC. The grid cell, a prominent position-modulated cell type present in MEC, has been postulated to derive its characteristic hexagonal firing pattern from dominant disynaptic inhibitory connections between hippocampal-projecting stellate cells. Given that grid cells have not been described in LEC, we aim to describe the local synaptic connectivity of fan cells, to explore whether the network architecture is similar to that of the MEC stellate cell. Using a combination of in vitro multi-cell electrophysiological and optogenetic approaches in acute slices from rodents of either sex, we show that excitatory connectivity between fan cells is very sparse. Fan cells connect preferentially with two distinct types of inhibitory interneurons, suggesting disynaptic inhibitory coupling as the main form of communication among fan cells. These principles are similar to those reported for stellate cells in MEC, indicating an overall comparable local circuit architecture of the main hippocampal-projecting cell types in the lateral and medial entorhinal cortex.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTOur data provide the first description of the synaptic microcircuit of hippocampal-projecting layer II cells in the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC). We show that these cells make infrequent monosynaptic connections with each other, and that they preferentially communicate through a disynaptic inhibitory network. This is similar to the microcircuit of hippocampal-projecting stellate cells in layer II of the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC), but dissimilar to the connectivity observed in layer 2 of neocortex. In MEC, the observed network structure has been proposed to underlie the firing pattern of grid cells. This opens the possibility that layer II cells in LEC exhibit regular firing patterns in an unexplored domain. PMID: 30249791 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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