About me

Dr. Marie Carlén is a Professor and group leader at the Department of Neuroscience.

Marie received her Ph.D. in medicine from Karolinska Institutet in 2005. Her doctoral studies were conducted in the laboratory of Professor Jonas Frisén and focused on stem cells and neurogenesis in the adult brain and spinal cord. Marie went to Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), Boston, for postdoc studies in the laboratory of Professor Li-Huei Tsai at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. During her postdoc, Marie investigated how the activity of inhibitory interneurons expressing parvalbumin (PV) relates to cortical oscillatory activities and cognitive functions. 

In 2010 Marie was recruited back to Karolinska Institutet, and her laboratory is investigating cellular and circuit underpinning of cognition, with a focus on the prefrontal cortex.

Research description

The anterior part of the frontal lobe in primates and rodents is referred to as the prefrontal cortex. Information processing in the PFC is considered to be central to our cognitive abilities, and to enable flexible behavior. Accordingly, disturbed PFC functioning has been connected to most, if not all, mental disorders, including drug addiction. Needless to say, deciphering of the PFC is of great importance to both understanding of the brain, and to medicine. However, the PFC still lacks a conclusive definition, and the structure and function of this brain region across species remains unresolved (Carlén M. Science 2017). 

Present-day preclinical researchers increasingly utilize mice (Mus musculus) as model animals. However, clinical transfer of pre-clinically identified therapeutics targeting mental disorders (and other brain disorders) has been largely unsuccessful. Knowledge gaps regarding how the brain is built and functions contribute to the failures. Further, lack of comprehension of dissociations between species hampers the understanding of which findings are transferable from model animals to humans. Using high-density electrophysiological recordings, calcium imaging, and optogenetics in transgenic mice and rats we are in the lab characterizing cognitive processing across the subregions of the prefrontal cortex, with the goal to reveal how the prefrontal cortex enables cognition and purposeful behavior. A long-term goal is to establish defining functional features of the mammalian prefrontal cortex, which will enable evaluation of homologies between different species, and help clarify what makes the human prefrontal cortex unique.

For more information about our research, please turn to www.carlenlab.org

Recent publications 

A latent lineage potential in resident neural stem cells enables spinal cord repair

Llorens-Bobadilla E, Chell JM, Le Merre P, Wu Y, Zomboni M, Bergenstråhle J, Stenudd M, Sopova E, Lundeberg J, Shupliakov O, Carlén M, Frisén J

(2020). Science. Oct 2;370(6512):eabb8795   PMID: 33004487

A hypothalamus-habenula circuit controls aversion.

Lazaridis I, Tzortzi O, Weglage M, Märtin A, Xuan Y, Parent M, Johansson Y, Fuzik J, Fürth D, Fenno LE, Ramakrishnan C, Silberberg G, Deisseroth K, Carlén M, Meletis K.

(2020) Molecular Psychiatry. 2019 Sep;24(9):1351-1368.  PMID: 30755721

A whole-brain atlas of monosynaptic input targeting four different cell types in the medial prefrontal cortex of the mouse.

Ährlund-Richter S, Xuan Y, van Lunteren JA, Kim H, Ortiz C, Dorocic IP, Meletis K, Carlén M.

(2019) Nature Neuroscience. 2019 Apr;22(4):657-668. PMID: 30886408

Reducing Pericyte-Derived Scarring Promotes Recovery after Spinal Cord Injury.

Dias DO, Kim H, Holl D, Werne Solnestam B, Lundeberg J, Carlén M, Göritz C, Frisén J.

(2018) Cell. 2018 Mar 22;173(1):153-165.e22.  PMID: 29502968

An interactive framework for whole-brain maps at cellular resolution.

Fürth D, Vaissière T, Tzortzi O, Xuan Y, Märtin A, Lazaridis I, Spigolon G, Fisone G, Tomer R, Deisseroth K, Carlén M, Miller CA, Rumbaugh G, Meletis K.

(2018) Nature Neuroscience.  Jan;21(1):139-149. PMID: 29203898

What constitutes the prefrontal cortex?

Carlén M.

(2017) Science. 2017 Oct 27;358(6362):478-482. PMID: 29074767

Prefrontal Parvalbumin Neurons in Control of Attention.

Kim H, Ährlund-Richter S, Wang X, Deisseroth K, Carlén M.

(2016) Cell. 2016 Jan 14.  PMID: 6771492

Structural foundations of optogenetics: Determinants of channelrhodopsin ion selectivity.

Berndt A, Lee SY, Wietek J, Ramakrishnan C, Steinberg E, Rashid AJ, Kim H, Park S, Santoro A, Frankland PW, Iyer SM, Pak S, Ährlund-Richter S, Delp SL, Malenka RC, Jossely SA, Carlén M, Hegemann P, Deisseroth K. 

(2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 22. PMID:26699459

Loss of cyclin-dependent kinas 5 from parvalbumin interneurons leads to hyperinhibition, decreased anxiety, and memory impairment.

Rudenko A, Seo J, Hu J, Su SC, de Anda FC, Durak O, Ericsson M, Carlén M, Tsai LH.

(2015) Journal of Neuroscience. Feb 11;35(6):2372-83. PMID: 25673832

A whole-brain atlas of inputs to serotonergic neurons of the dorsal and median raphe nuclei.

Pollak Dorocic I, Fürth D, Xuan Y, Johansson Y, Pozzi L, Silberberg G, Carlén M, Meletis K.

(2014) Neuron. Aug 6;83(3):663-78.  PMID:25102561

Mice lacking NMDA receptors in parvalbumin neurons display normal depression-related behavior and response to antidepressant action of NMDAR antagonists.

Pozzi L, Dorocic IP, Wang X, Carlén M, Meletis K.

(2014) PLoS One. Jan 16;9(1):e83879. PMID: 24454710

Target selectivity of feedforward inhibition by striatal fast-spiking interneurons.

Szydlowski SN, Pollak Dorocic I, Planert H, Carlén M, Meletis K* / Silberberg G*.

(2013) Journal of Neuroscience. Jan 23;33(4):1678-83. PMID: 23345240

Optogenetic dissection of cortical information processing - shining light on schizophrenia.

Wang X, Carlén M.

(2012) Brain Research. Oct 2;1476:31-7. Review. PMID: 22578471


For preprints and full publication list, turn to http://carlenlab.org/publications/


Academic honours, awards and prizes

Wallenberg Scholar 2019

Wallenberg Academy Fellow prolongation 2017

European Research Council Starting Grant 2013 (LS5)

Wallenberg Academy Fellow in Medicine 2012

Ragnar Söderberg Fellow in Medicine 2012

2012 Freedman Prize Honorable Mention for Outstanding Research in Basic Brain and Behavior Science. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (former NARSAD)

Sven och Ebba-Christina Hagbergs Prize 2010

NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2010

NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2008

PIIF: Picower Institute Innovation Fund 2007 (MIT; Cambridge, USA)

Keystone Symposium on Stem Cells. 2006 Scholarship 

Award of Excellence: The Alzheimer’s Association Route28 Summits in Neurobiology 2001