Dr Tiago Branco


Our goal is to understand how the mouse brain implements the computations that underlie innate behaviours. We aim to provide biophysically detailed descriptions of how sensory inputs and motivational states are integrated to produce behavioural outputs. In particular, we are interested in understanding how synaptic signals are integrated at different stages of information processing, and in finding what are the channels and biophysical processes that determine how signals are transformed. Currently we focus on hypothalamic circuits that control defensive and aggressive behaviours, and how these might be modulated by hunger states. We use a variety of in vitro and in vivo techniques, including behavioural assays, electrophysiology, two-photon microscopy, target-specific genetic manipulations and computational modelling.

Research Focus


Innate Behaviour



Information Processing

Synaptic Integration

Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Calcium imaging

Computational modelling

Confocal microscopy

Electrophysiological recording techniques

Fluorescence microscopy


Intracellular recording



No collaborators listed

Associated News Items



Smith SL, Smith IT, Branco T, Häusser M (2013), “Dendritic spikes enhance stimulus selectivity in cortical neurons in vivo.” Nature 503(7474):115-20 Details


Duguid I, Branco T, London M, Chadderton P, Häusser M (2012), “Tonic inhibition enhances fidelity of sensory information transmission in the cerebellar cortex.” J Neurosci 32(32):11132-43 Details

Marra V, Burden JJ, Thorpe JR, Smith IT, Smith SL, Häusser M, Branco T, Staras K (2012), “A preferentially segregated recycling vesicle pool of limited size supports neurotransmission in native central synapses.” Neuron 76(3):579-89 Details

Ratnayaka A, Marra V, Bush D, Burden JJ, Branco T, Staras K (2012), “Recruitment of resting vesicles into recycling pools supports NMDA receptor-dependent synaptic potentiation in cultured hippocampal neurons.” J Physiol 590(Pt 7):1585-97 Details


Branco T (2011), “Eppendorf winner. The language of dendrites.” Science 334(6056):615-6 Details

Branco T, Häusser M (2011), “Synaptic integration gradients in single cortical pyramidal cell dendrites.” Neuron 69(5):885-92 Details

Ratnayaka A, Marra V, Branco T, Staras K (2011), “Extrasynaptic vesicle recycling in mature hippocampal neurons.” Nat Commun 2:531 Details


Branco T, Clark BA, Häusser M (2010), “Dendritic discrimination of temporal input sequences in cortical neurons.” Science 329(5999):1671-5 Details

Branco T, Häusser M (2010), “The single dendritic branch as a fundamental functional unit in the nervous system.” Curr Opin Neurobiol 20(4):494-502 Details

Branco T, Marra V, Staras K (2010), “Examining size-strength relationships at hippocampal synapses using an ultrastructural measurement of synaptic release probability.” J Struct Biol 172(2):203-10 Details

Staras K, Branco T (2010), “Sharing vesicles between central presynaptic terminals: implications for synaptic function.” Front Synaptic Neurosci 2:20 Details

Staras K, Branco T, Burden JJ, Pozo K, Darcy K, Marra V, Ratnayaka A, Goda Y (2010), “A vesicle superpool spans multiple presynaptic terminals in hippocampal neurons.” Neuron 66(1):37-44 Details


Branco T, Häusser M (2009), “The selfish spike: local and global resets of dendritic excitability.” Neuron 61(6):815-7 Details

Branco T, Staras K (2009), “The probability of neurotransmitter release: variability and feedback control at single synapses.” Nat Rev Neurosci 10(5):373-83 Details


Branco MR, Branco T, Ramirez F, Pombo A (2008), “Changes in chromosome organization during PHA-activation of resting human lymphocytes measured by cryo-FISH.” Chromosome Res 16(3):413-26 Details

Branco T, Staras K, Darcy KJ, Goda Y (2008), “Local dendritic activity sets release probability at hippocampal synapses.” Neuron 59(3):475-85 Details


Clark BA, Monsivais P, Branco T, London M, Häusser M (2005), “The site of action potential initiation in cerebellar Purkinje neurons.” Nat Neurosci 8(2):137-9 Details


Campos LS, Duarte AJ, Branco T, Henrique D (2001), “mDll1 and mDll3 expression in the developing mouse brain: role in the establishment of the early cortex.” J Neurosci Res 64(6):590-8 Details