Group leader: Anthony Holtmaat
Group name: Structural synaptic plasticity
Affiliation: Medical Sciences
Our laboratory is interested in structural and morphological aspects of synaptic plasticity in the adult brain. We are testing the hypothesis that changes in the connectivity between neurons, through synapse formation and elimination, constitute a basis for training and experience-dependent adaptations in cortical network function. To this end we image cortical neurons in fluorescent transgenic mice in vivo, using high-resolution two-photon laser scanning microscopy through chronic cranial window implants. In this way we are able to track individual dendritic spines and axonal boutons, which are the structural proxies for synapses, over weeks to months while the animal receives new sensory experiences or loses sensory inputs. In addition we measure the molecular stability and dynamics of individual synapses by following the transport and diffusion of synaptic proteins carrying a fluorescent tag. Together these studies will deepen our understanding of how the nervous system is able to, on one hand maintain its synaptic network, and on the other hand subtly change its connectivity, in order to accommodate the animal~s memory storage as well as its ability to continuously adapt to an ever-changing environment.