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Valentin Nägerl"Activity-dependent remodeling of synaptic circuits : from phenomenology to function"

Abstract :

The striking ability of the brain to learn and retain information is thought to rely primarily on activity-dependent synaptic plasticity.
Whereas short-term information storage is usually explained in terms of acute changes in the strength of synaptic connections, long-term memory is thought to involve additional plastic changes in the “hardwiring,” or the physical connectivity of neuronal circuits.
Our work aims to better understand the phenomenology, molecular mechanisms and functional consequences of activity-driven changes in the synaptic connectivity of neurons in the CNS. In particular, we study the dynamics and molecular determinants of the activity-dependent formation and removal of hippocampal synapses. Recently, we demonstrated a high degree of activity-dependent presynaptic structural plasticity that complements the dynamics of postsynaptic spines. Currently, we are investigating how plastic boutons behave functionally and how the turnover of synaptic proteins shapes the plasticity of synaptic structures.
For our experimental approaches we use a combination of electrophysiological and optical techniques, including 2-photon and STED microscopy.

Selected publications

Nägerl UV, Köstinger G, Anderson JC, Martin KAC, Bonhoeffer T. Protracted synaptogenesis after activity-dependent spinogenesis in hippocampal neurons. J Neurosci. 2007
Fonseca R, Vabulas RM, Hartl FU, Bonhoeffer T, Nägerl UV. A balance of protein synthesis and proteasome-dependent degradation determines the maintenance of LTP. Neuron. 2006
Fonseca R, Nägerl UV, Bonhoeffer T. Neuronal activity determines the protein synthesis-dependence of late-phase LTP. Nat Neurosci. 2006