Activity-Dependence of Synaptic Maturation in Zebrafish Visual Circuits
The way that brain cells wire together to form circuits underlies almost every facet of mental function, whether that be memory, thinking, or sensation. In my project, I seek to better understand what happens on a molecular level that allows for these specific circuits to form. Specifically, I want to elucidate the role that the maturation of synapsesthe connections between neuronshas on the shape, structure, and connectivity of the neurons making up these circuits, and how experience drives these changes. I will do this using the zebrafish visual processing system, which can be easily manipulated through optogenetic techniques of controlling cells with light flashes. In my experiments I will manipulate both optogenetically and pharmacologically a specific voltage gated ion channel, NMDAR, that is known to facilitate experience-dependent neuron wiring, and observe the effects on both synapses and cell structure to make a conclusion regarding NMDARs role in synapse-driven development.
Message to Sponsor
- Major: Neurobiology, Philosophy (minor)
- Sponsor: Pergo SURF fellow
- Mentor: Ehud Isacoff, Molecular & Cell Biology