Cortex Plasticity: How the Brain Interprets Stimuli

Pre- and Postsynaptic Effects of Muscarinic Acetylecholine Receptors in Somatosensory
2010 Seed Grant
Jack Waters, Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
Northwestern University

The way in which the brain interprets incoming information is constantly changing according to the relevance of the incoming stimuli at that moment in time. This ‘plasticity’ results in part, from changes in the strengths of synaptic signals between neurons. Acetylcholine is a brain chemical that modulates the strength of synapses, but the manner in which it performs this modulation is unclear. In this proposal we will use electrical recording and high-resolution microscopy techniques to measure synaptic function before, during and after release of acetylcholine with ‘optogenetic’ tools. In this way we will determine the sites of action of acetylcholine and the mechanisms by which it alters synaptic signaling between neurons.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The role of microglial lysosomes in selective neuronal vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the nervous system constructs internal models of the external world
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the orchestra of movement—functional role of striatal astrocytes in health and disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…