Our work focuses on synaptic and cellular plasticity in vivo and its relationship to behavior.
Homeostatic plasticity in vivo
We are interested in how homeostatic mechanisms are implemented in vivo and the effects of these mechanisms on activity levels. We work in the mouse visual cortex, using a combination of functional and structural imaging to determine the synaptic and cellular changes that follow sensory deprivation in both excitatory and inhibitory cells. We are interested in the spatial scales of homeostatic plasticity and how activity is modulated at the level of individual synapses, dendritic branches, cells and networks of cells, as well as the functional consequences of this modulation for the network and behavior.
Synaptic plasticity in vivo
Following sensory deprivation, synaptic reorganisation occurs through removal dendritic spines that are no longer viable inputs and the addition of new dendritic spines to locate new inputs. Despite the fact that most new dendritic spines form synapses, not all of these new spines are stabilised beyond a few days. We are interested in understanding why some new synapses are maintained, while others are removed after a period of weeks. Understanding the mechanisms of the stabilisation of new synapses is a critical question in neuroscience, as the hallmark of a number of neurodegenerative diseases is the inability of newly formed synapses to stabilise.
Population Studies of Healthy Aging
In collaboration with a number of partners, we are interested in identifying healthy behaviors that support healthy aging. We are working with cohorts over 60 years old to determine the important aspects for healthy aging and how brain plasticity can be used to influence healthy behaviors.