Nicolás Palanca

Postdoctoral Researcher
Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso (CINV)
Neuroscience of Circuits and Systems laboratory
Principal investigator: Dr. Adrian G. Palacios
Doctor in natural sciences (Dr. rer. nat.), University of Oldenburg, Germany. (2016)
Licentiate degree in Biology with specialization in Organisms and Systems, University of Vigo, Spain. (2010)

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information:
E-mail: nicolas.palanca at
Telephone: (56)-(32)-2508049
Address: Centro Interdisciplinario de Neurociencia de Valparaíso, Facultad de Ciencias,
Universidad de Valparaíso. Gran Bretaña 1111. Playa Ancha, Valparaíso-Chile.

Research Statement:

The recent discovery of intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) in the vertebrate retina has created a small revolution in visual science and opened several possible new avenues of research and applications. These ipRGCs, unlike the great majority of retinal ganglion cells, contain a pigment named melanopsin more like invertebrate rhodopsins than to vertebrate visual pigments. It has been shown that direct photoreception from ipRGCs is heavily involved in non-image forming responses, the malfunction of which is associated with widespread human health and quality of life issues such as affective, mood and sleep disorders, disruptions of the circadian rhythm and the prevalent seasonal affective disorder, and can also be related to some signs of aging or/and neurodegeneration. Knowledge of the existence of this additional photoreceptor system separate from the one based on rods and cones opens the possibility to study its dysfunction and use it as a diagnostic tool for aging and neurodegenerative disorders.
My current project involves studying the melanopsin system in common degu (Octodon degus). The common degu is a diurnal,,social, long-lived rodent that shows hallmarks of neurodegeneration with age, which has given it interest recently as an animal model for comparative biology. The aim of this project is to achieve a thorough characterization of important anatomical, physiological and behavioral aspects of the ipRGC system in a diurnal social animal that is more directly comparable to humans than the standard laboratory mice. In addition, it will provide us data on how this system changes with age in a natural model of age-induced neurodegeneration.


  • Palanca-Castan N., Laumén G., Reed D., Köppl C. 2016. The binaural interaction component in barn owl (Tyto alba) presents few differences to mammalian data. Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (JARO). 17.6 (2016): 577-589.
  • Palanca-Castan N., Köppl, C. 2015. In vivo recordings from low-frequency nucleus laminaris in the barn owl. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 85(4). (Editor’s Choice, open access).
  • Palanca-Castan N., Köppl, C. 2015. Change in interaural time difference processing in low-frequency chicken auditory brainstem. Frontiers in neural circuits 9:43.
  • Miramontes-Sequeiros L.C., Palanca-Castan N., Palanca-Soler A. 2010. Development of a new anatomic tool for the study of the Occipital region in Delphinus delphis. Marine Mammal Science 26(4): 982–989.
  • Ndiaga T., Miramontes-Sequeiros L.C., Palanca-Castan N., Palanca-Soler A. 2009. Anatomical differences among Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of Trisopterus luscus (Pisces). Aquatic biology 7: 243–24.