Learning Induced Structural Synaptic Plasticity

PI: Anna Dunaevsky, PhD
Project Title: The Role of Astrocyte Activity in Learning Induced Structural Synaptic Plasticity
Grant Agency: NSF, University
Award: $180,000

Understanding the mechanisms of learning and memory is of major interest to neuroscientists and the society at large. Functional and structural neuronal synaptic plasticity has been long implicated in mediating learning and memory. Our recent discoveries, that the function of the nonneuronal cells, astrocytes, is both necessary for learning and is impacted by learning leads to a new line of investigation about the relationship between astrocytic activity and structural synaptic plasticity.

We will test the hypothesis that activity in astrocytic processes surrounding synapses leads to synaptic stabilization during development and learning. These experiments will contribute to a deeper understanding of mechanisms that underlie the processes of learning and memory.