Neuronal activity impacts how newborn neurons integrate into functional synaptic circuits. This activity dependent sculpting of synaptic circuitry during development and at a slower pace in the adult, represents a type of synaptic plasticity whereby neuronal connectivity slowly changes over time. Additionally, neuronal activity can change the strength of synapses within networks that have established connectivity. We seek to understand the role of these two types of plasticity in the development of cognitive and emotional behavior.
We focus on performing stable, precise, and well characterized genetic manipulations in mice. We then evaluate the functional impact of the genetic manipulation using whole-cell electrophysiology and imaging. Further, we employ a variety of in vitro systems to gain molecular insight into the physiologically relevant phenotypes we uncover in vivo.
Bryan W. Luikart, PhD
Department of Molecular and Systems Biology
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth