Maria Antonietta Tosches

Assistant Professor; Department of Biological Sciences

Ph.D., European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany

M.S., University of Pisa and Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy

The stunning complexity of our brain is the result of a long journey, that started when squishy and brainless aggregates of cells—the first animals—appeared on Earth over 700 million years ago. Understanding how our brain evolved can shed light on fundamental principles underlying its organization and function. The Tosches lab investigates the evolution of the cerebral cortex, the part of our brain associated with advanced cognition. Focusing on neuron types as units of evolutionary change, we discovered that the mammalian cerebral cortex has a unique neuronal repertoire without clear counterparts in other vertebrates. Our future goal is to understand how changes of developmental programs and gene regulation contributed to the emergence of these new types of neurons in mammals.