Lighting the way to somatosensory synaptic plasticity
The human brain exhibits tremendous plasticity or capacity for change manifested in numerous biophysical ways and subserving processes from memory to recovery after trauma. Synaptic plasticity, changes in the connections between neurons, is often the result of altered input from presynaptic neurons creating long-term altered responses in post-synaptic neurons. Understanding of this process is enhanced with animal models. With the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the iMAC project is investigating synaptic plasticity in the rat somatosensory cortex following whisker trimming. Specifically, the team is using optical methods to evaluate the mechanisms of augmented excitatory phenomena in post-synaptic cells of the cortex that are related to descending presynaptic inputs from higher order cells.