ABSTRACT: Activity-dependent changes in synaptic strength and structure are crucial for the acquisition, storage, and retrieval of information in the brain. These changes are orchestrated by a complex cascade of biochemical reactions that occur at the synapse and involve hundreds of intracellular and extracellular signaling proteins. To better understand the operation principles of these signaling networks, we have developed innovative techniques for visualizing and manipulating the spatiotemporal dynamics of protein activity. Specifically, we have designed novel tools that enable us to image signaling activity at the level of individual synapses and to perturb signaling processes using optogenetic approaches. These cutting-edge techniques have provided unprecedented insights into the mechanisms that underlie synaptic plasticity, circuit function, and behavioral adaptations.
Student Host: Kritika Mehta, Charles F. Kade Fellow in Biochemistry