As part of a transnational funding initiative entitled ‘German–US Collaboration in Computational Neuroscience’, Stefan Remy, a scientist at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), and his colleagues Nelson Spruston and Bill Kath of Northwestern University and Stephen Smith of Stanford University have received US$1.5 million in funding to research neuronal memory function.
The project will be funded over three years by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The aim of the project is to improve understanding of neuronal connections in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region in the temporal lobes of the brain that is particularly important for learning and memory. Scientists believe that signal transmission by nerve cells and their functional connections are altered in many diseases of the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and schizophrenia.
All brain activities – sensory perception, thinking, remembering – are based on the electrical activity of nerve cells. Electrical signals are transmitted from cell to cell at their points of contact, the synapses. As part of the project funding, Remy and his colleagues will develop realistic computer models of individual nerve cells and will use these models to simulate the complex interactions between nerve cells in networks. Such computer simulations are essential to improve our understanding of the cognitive functions of the brain and their malfunction in neurodegenerative diseases.
Nerve cells send long, finely branched extensions, or dendrites, into neighbouring brain regions. A nerve cell receives and processes electrical signals at around 50,000 synapses – neuronal contact points – from upstream cells. To develop a realistic model of nerve cell function, it is important to know the precise distribution of the synapses on the branched neuronal structures. Yet additional factors also play an essential role in signal processing, such as the strength of the synaptic contact or the diameter of the dendrite at the contact point. Remy and his colleagues will study these factors using new methods with a degree of precision not previously achieved. The function of the synapses will be studied using targeted laser pulses which can trigger the release a neurotransmitter, glutamate, from single or multiple synapses. The scientists will also analyse the structure of nerve cells, including all of their branching and synapses, using ultra-modern microscopy and tomography techniques. By using improved computer models that take all relevant functional factors into consideration, researchers hope to generate new hypotheses about brain function which can then be tested experimentally. The researchers will also study how the synaptic strength changes over time. Change in synaptic connections due to neuronal activity, also known as neuroplasticity, is correlated with learning and memory and is often impaired in neurodegenerative diseases.Contact information:
Katrin Weigmann | idw
Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction
17.01.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI
Inspired by nature - scalable chemical factory due to photomicroreactors
11.01.2018 | DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V.
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy