Systems Biology of Learning and Memory



 H. Sapiens 

  displays many high level behaviors:

  * Learning

  * Memory

  * Cognition

  * Emotion

  * Creativity

homer brain






 These behaviors are generated by:

         The Brain 

 The brain consists of:




 which communicate through connections called:




(Synapses mediate communication between neurons. An action potential generated by the pre-synaptic neuron arrives at a synaptic terminal, where it causes a brief release of a neurotransmitter, which diffuses across the synaptic cleft and binds to a receptor in the post-synaptic membrane. The resulting change in local membrane potential affects the excitability of the post-synaptic neuron).

synaptic plasticity
Synapses are "plastic": their structure and function depends on the recent history of previous activity.

LTP (Long Term Potentiation): a long-lasting increase in synaptic strength caused be brief period of high-frequency input.

LTP is the main cellular/molecular paradigm for learning and memory.
  Problem: explain high-level brain functionality (generating 'behavior') in terms of the well-known cellular & molecular properties of neurons and synapses, and their plasticity    
The actual problem

Neuronal Networks: a critical link for connecting brain function to neuronal plasticity.

Problem #1: How do neuronal networks employ neuronal and synaptic plasticity to generate appropriate 'systems levels' functionality?

Problem #2: How does a complex hierarchy of neuronal networks generate high level brain functionality?

We are currently addressing Problem #1



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