The Ruth K. Broad Foundation Seminar Series on Neurobiology and Disease
Neuronal circuits made by synapses in the brain enable learning, memory, perception, emotion, and their impairment results in various mental disorders. We perform research that extensively utilize microscopic methods to observe cellular and molecular events deep within the brain, and which allow labeling of potentiated synapses and optical manipulation of synapses and circuits. We have shown that cerebral spine synapses undergo rapid enlargement during potentiation in the hippocampus, neocortex and basal ganglia. Such dynamic synaptic motilities are the sites of endogenous neuromodulation, therapeutic agents and addictive drugs. Moreover, the dynamic nature of synapses has allowed us to construct new optical and molecular probes for a better understanding of learning and cognition and their impairments.