Centre for Synaptic Plasticity

The Centre for Synaptic Plasticity started as a joint venture between the Medical Research Council and the University of Bristol. Research is directed towards gaining an understanding of synaptic plasticity in both normal and disease states, such as epilepsy. Work within the Centre is carried out in a multidisciplinary and collaborative manner, with different research groups tacking different aspects of a particular question.

Research

The mission of the Centre for Synaptic Plasticity is to advance our understanding of synaptic plasticity in a multidisciplinary and collaborative manner. Specifically, studies are directed at a greater understanding of how, where and why the brain modifies synaptic strength during normal function (in particular, during learning and memory) and in certain pathological states (such as in Alzheimer’s disease). Members of the Centre are involved in a wide range of research areas focused on understanding neuronal function at the molecular and cellular levels, through systems analyses and ultimately to the clinic. We collaborate closely with the world-wide neuroscience community, both in academic institutions and industry, in order to advance our understanding of neuronal function. Most importantly, we ask questions such as:

  • what different forms of plasticity are there and are they the same in different brain regions?
  • what receptors are involved in plasticity and how are they regulated?
  • do different forms of plasticity underlie different forms of memory?
  • are multiple brain regions involved in individual memory processes?
  • how do multiple brain regions synchronise activity?
  • how does experience affect plasticity?
  • does disruption of these processes underlie pathological conditions?

In order to answer such questions, research carried out within the MRC Centre is necessarily broad based and multi-disciplinary. Work ranges from investigations into the molecular mechanisms of protein movement and sorting, to the cellular basis of plasticity and the fundamental mechanisms of learning and memory.

We utilise an array of different techniques to try and answer the questions we pose, from medicinal chemistry and molecular biology, electrophysiological recording and imaging of individual neurons in vitro to behavioural research looking at how plasticity affects learning and memory. We also use models of pathology (eg oxygen deprivation in cultured neurons as a model for ischaemic stroke) to investigate molecular changes that occur during disease and how those changes can be prevented. As a result, we can investigate changes in the cellular and molecular machinery that underlie behavioural processes in normal and pathological states.

Contacts

Andrew Doherty

Teaching Fellow, School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience

Research Fellow, School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience

+44 (0)117 3311924

mrc-csp@bristol.ac.uk

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