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ERC

BRAINPLASTICITY Result In Brief

Project reference: 203994
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Israel

In-depth look into brain cells' ability to change throughout life

The brain operates at different time periods, from milliseconds to months. An EU initiative sought to understand how the brain changes during such extended time intervals.
In-depth look into brain cells' ability to change throughout life
How single neurons change over long periods of time remains unanswered in the brain plasticity field. This is mainly because the tools used to study the physiology of single neurons in the brain over time are limited.

To address this issue, the EU-funded BRAINPLASTICITY (In vivo imaging of functional plasticity in the mammalian brain) project set out to reveal the physiological changes of single neurons in the brain of mammals across contrasting timescales.

To achieve its aims, BRAINPLASTICITY employed time-lapse optical imaging to investigate the physiological activity of single neurons. Specifically, project partners provided quantitative estimates of neuronal turnover in the olfactory bulb and observed its characteristics. Findings show that the synaptic turnover of adult-born neurons is particularly strong in new mothers. They demonstrated that mature adult-born neurons are also important in adulthood, challenging the belief of their importance solely during early existence.

The BRAINPLASTICITY team studied a neuronal population which revealed a new function for neurons. Very small populations in the olfactory bulb were found to code olfactory information. It used in vivo two-photon calcium imaging to reveal the microarchitecture of the cortical circuit.

Researchers used electrophysiology to discover a novel multisensory interaction between sounds and smell in the auditory cortex of new mothers. This change in the brain may improve bonding between mothers and their offspring. In addition, they developed a new method that is beneficial for long-term cortical plasticity experiments.

By developing tools to image single and populations of neurons, and then applying them to examine developing and mature cells, BRAINPLASTICITY shed light into the ever-changing nature of the mammalian brain.

Related information

Keywords

Neurons, brain plasticity, BRAINPLASTICITY, mammalian brain
Record Number: 188365 / Last updated on: 2016-08-23
Domain: Biology, Medicine