Excitatory and inhibitory synapse communication in synaptic plasticity

2019 Seed Grant
Kathleen Smith, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Denver

During many neurological diseases, brain regions that are essential for learning and memory become over-excitable, due to excessive nerve impulses between nerve cells. This causes nerve cells in these regions to behave abnormally or die, leading to brain damage. Our research aims to understand the processes and factors within nerve cells that cause this over-excitability and their altered function or death. Specifically, we want to know how the connections between nerve cells change during processes that underlie learning and memory (plasticity) in healthy brains, so we can then determine how this goes wrong in disease. We will study nerve cell connections using powerful microscopes to visualize the nerve cells. We can make nerve cells glow green, red and blue so we can observe the changes in the connections between nerves during experiments mimicking plasticity. We will also use a special microscope that allows us to see even the tiniest details of the nerve connections, providing even more information about the processes that are occurring in the nerve cells during plasticity. Lastly, we will determine what factors in the neuron are causing the changes in nerve connections during plasticity. Knowing more about this process will help us understand how to make drugs to treat diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy and stroke.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
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Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…