Entry Date:
January 22, 2016


Principal Investigator Mark Harnett

If integrative operations within neurons represent the building blocks for computations, then plasticity in the biophysical properties of individual neurons could provide a potent means for either reinforcing or changing neural processing algorithms. Most current models for how the brain learns are based on the concept of spike-timing-dependent plasticity, in which the relative timing of action potentials in presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons causes synapses to become either stronger or weaker. The complexity of dendritic processing, however, suggests many other possible mechanisms by which the function of neural circuits could be altered by experience. Harnett plans to explore this possibility using electrical and optical recording in behaving rodents and in vitro preparations to understand how changes in cellular properties lead to altered computations and thus to modification of behavior through learning.