Plasticity of neuronal connections
We investigate regulatory mechanisms that control the formation, maintenance and turnover of synaptic connections (structural plasticity), and how this plasticity relates to learning and behavior. We are particularly interested in mechanisms determining the plasticity of defined neuronal circuits, as they may inform us about principles of learning, adaptation, and resilience to disease in the nervous system.
Applying this approach to the hippocampus, a brain structure with a critical role in learning and memory, we investigate how learning and experience specifically influence circuit structure, and how that structure in turn impacts on behavior. We are taking a comprehensive approach to hippocampal and cerebellar circuits, with studies ranging from the specification and assembly of defined microcircuits during development, to the roles of these microcircuits in adult plasticity.
In a second line of research, we investigate mechanisms of disease in neurodegeneration, focusing on mouse models of motoneuron disease. As well as mouse genetics, mouse behavior, neuroanatomy, single cell genomics and live imaging, we use transgenic mice expressing fluorescent chimeric proteins in single neurons to visualize neurons and subcellular components in situ.