University of Vermont

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty


Pierre-Pascal Lenck-Santini, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Sciences

  • Master (Maitrise + DEA) Universite de Provence, Marseille, France
  • PhD Universite de Provence, Marseille, France
  • Postdoctoral Fellow SUNY Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY



My primary interest is to understand the neurological substrates of information processing and cognition, with a particular interest in learning and memory. My approach is based on Electrophysiology and behavioral analysis in rats. During my PhD I studied the functional role of the activity of neurons called “place cells”, characterized by their location specific firing. These neurons are found in a brain structure called hippocampus, a structure critical for learning and memory. By combining spatial behavior analysis and single cell recordings in freely moving rats, I discovered that the rat performance in spatial tasks could be predicted by the ongoing activity of these cells. Later, I focused my research on understanding whether place cells are capable of coding non-spatial information, such as the occurrence of specific events. I also studied the interactions between place cell activity and a particular brain oscillation called theta rhythm. Because the place cell signal can be traced from the hippocampus to it’s connecting structures and because it provides an access to the computations occurring in the brain, I chose to use it as a model for investigating the neurological bases of cognitive disorders associated to epilepsy. It is my belief that this model, both studied in rats and humans, will help to better understand and cure the cognitive disorders associated with epilepsy. In collaboration with Pr. Gregory Holmes, I found that the relationship between place cell firing and hippocampal EEG oscillations was altered in a rat model of temporal epilepsy. We also discovered that EEG epileptiform abnormalities observed in periods between seizures disrupted memory performance in this model. Today, I am focusing my research in understanding the origins and mechanisms of cognitive impairments in neurological disorders, particularly those affecting cognitive development.

Selected Publications

Holmes G, Lenck-Santini P-P (2006). Role of lnterictal epileptiform abnormalities in cognitive impairment. Epilepsy and Behavior. 8,504-515Zhou JL, Lenck-Santini PP, Holmes GL. (2007} Postictal single-cell firing patterns In the hippocampus. Epllepsla. Apr;48(4}:713-9

Zhou J-L, Lenck-Santini P-P, Zhao Q, and Holmes GL (2007) Effect of lnterictal Spikes on Single-Cell Firing Patterns in the Hippocampus, Epllepsia.. Apr;48(4):720-31

Hok V, Lenck-Santini P-P*, Roux S, Save E, Muller RU, Poucet B (2007} Goal-Related Activity in Hippocampal Place Cells. J. Neurosci. Jan 17;27(3):472-82

Lenck-Santini P-P, Holmes G (2008} Altered phase precession and compression of temporal sequences by place cells in epileptic rats. J. Neurosci. May 7;28(19}:5053-62.

Lenck-Santini P-P, Fenton A, Muller RU (2008) Discharge Properties of Hippocampal Neurons during Performance of a Jump Avoidance Task. J. Neurosci. Jul 2;28(27}:6773-86

Kleen J, Holmes GLH, Lenck-Santlni P-P (2010) Hippocampallnterictal Spikes Disrupt Cognition in Rats. Ann Neural. 67(2):250-7.
Fenton AA, Lytton WW, Barry, JM, Lenck-Santini PP, Zinyui< LE, Kubik S, Bures J, Poucet B, Muller RU, Olypher AV (2010) , Attention-like modulation of hippocampus place cell discharge. J. Neurosci. 30(13}:4613-25.

Scott R, Richard GR, Holmes GL, Lenck-Santini P-P (2010) Maturational dynamics of hippocampal place cells in immature rats hippocampus. 2011 Apr;21(4}:347-53

lsaev D, Zhao Q, Kleen JK, Lenck-Santini P-P, Adstamongkonkul D, lsaeva E, Holmes GL (2011). Neuraminidase reduces interictal spikes in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy model.¬  Epilepsia. Mar 52(3):e12-5

Lucas MM, Lenck-Santini P-P, Holmes GL, Scott RC. (2011). Impaired cognition in rats with cortical dysplasia:¬  additional impact¬  of early-life seizures. Brain. Jun;134(Pt 6):1684-93

Holmes GL, Bender AC, Wu EX, Scott RC, Lenck-Santini P-P, Morse RP. (2011) Maturation of EEG oscillations in children¬  with sodium channel mutations. Brain Dev. Sep 20

Kleen JK, Wu EX, Holmes GLH, Scott RC, Lenck-Santlnl P-P (2011). Enhanced Oscillatory Activity in the Hippocampal-Prefrontal Network Is Related to Short-Term Memory Function after Early-Life Seizures. J. Neurosci.¬ ¬  31(43):15397-15406

*: co-first author

Last modified January 05 2016 08:51 AM