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.