RESEARCH TOPIC :
In humans and rodents, the majority of neurons are found in the cerebellum where the most abundant synapse type is the excitatory granule cell to Purkinje cell synapse. In vitro studies in rodents have demonstrated that the strength of transmission at these synapses can be modified by plasticity mechanisms, various ones. Some of them may underlie information storage, while others may reflect homeostatic processes. One of our goals is to link synaptic plasticity mechanisms to specific functions.
We have studied the roles of two G-protein coupled receptors involved in synaptic plasticity mechanisms: type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors and type 1 cannabinoid receptors. Now, we combine classical electrophysiology (patch-clamp) to novel experimental approaches based on the use of optogenetic tools, micro-technology and signal analysis from calcium imaging to better understand the cellular interactions that take place at the granule cell to Purkinje cell synapse. In parallel, we investigate quantitatively the distribution of synaptic strengths, which appears to be highly heterogeneous. We aim to test whether this heterogeneous distribution is a memory trace and whether it correlates with the amount of cerebellar learning.
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