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Dependence of Synaptic Plasticity Rules on Synaptic Location in Neocortical Layer-5 Neurons


A striking feature of a neuron is its dendrite tree. Among other things, dendrites convey information from synaptic contacts with other cells. Learning and memory rethought to be mediated by the activity-dependent modification of synaptic connective strengths, a notion termed synaptic plasticity. Rules for plasticity describe the activity that modifies the strength of a synaptic connection; properties such as diameter and length of the dendrite branch on which a synapse is located will influence this activity. Hence, synaptic plasticity rules depend on dendrite properties as well as on synapse’s location in the dendrite tree. I propose to examine the location dependence of plasticity rules in cortical layer 5pyramidal neurons, which have apical and basal dendrite regions with distinct synaptic inputs. I will address how the different biophysical properties of these regions underlie synaptic plasticity with the ultimate goal of deriving a detailed computer model of dendrite biophysics and its role in plasticity. I have previously studied plasticity rules in one location of layer 5 neurons using methods that have limited me to describing plasticity, without addressing underlying mechanisms in great detail. In Dr. Hauser’s lab, I will learn several advanced biophysical methods that I will use towards my goal of understanding synapticplasticity.The biophysical methods I will learn in Dr. Hauser’s lab will add to my scientific breadth by complementing my expertise in electro physiology and molecular biology. This will help me when I ultimately have my own lab. Finally, being Swedish, I believe Will benefit from learning more about science in Europe.

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