The vision of my lab is to understand the plasticity processes used for coding experience so that we can manipulate plasticity in cases where it is impaired.
The cerebral cortex is most highly developed in humans. It is that part of the brain which gives us our distinctively human qualities. How does the cortex process information and how does it store new information, in other words, how does it remember? We are studying these questions in an area of the brain that processes tactile information. We record neuronal activity and measure the way sensory processing is modified by experience (experience-dependent plasticity). We can test whether particular proteins are necessary for plasticity and recent results show that a major post-synaptic protein known as CAMKII is crucial for plasticity in this area of the cortex. Studies on synaptic plasticity implicate the GluR1 subunit of the AMPA channel and neuronal Nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that makes nitric oxide are responsible for post- and pres-synaptic components of potentiation respectively.