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
ESJET printing technology for large area active devices awarded
11.04.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Pushing digital process optimization
02.04.2019 | Technische Universität Chemnitz
A new assessment of NASA's record of global temperatures revealed that the agency's estimate of Earth's long-term temperature rise in recent decades is accurate to within less than a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit, providing confidence that past and future research is correctly capturing rising surface temperatures.
The most complete assessment ever of statistical uncertainty within the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) data product shows that the annual values...
Physicists at the University of Basel are able to show for the first time how a single electron looks in an artificial atom. A newly developed method enables them to show the probability of an electron being present in a space. This allows improved control of electron spins, which could serve as the smallest information unit in a future quantum computer. The experiments were published in Physical Review Letters and the related theory in Physical Review B.
The spin of an electron is a promising candidate for use as the smallest information unit (qubit) of a quantum computer. Controlling and switching this spin or...
Engineers at the University of Tokyo continually pioneer new ways to improve battery technology. Professor Atsuo Yamada and his team recently developed a...
With a quantum coprocessor in the cloud, physicists from Innsbruck, Austria, open the door to the simulation of previously unsolvable problems in chemistry, materials research or high-energy physics. The research groups led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller report in the journal Nature how they simulated particle physics phenomena on 20 quantum bits and how the quantum simulator self-verified the result for the first time.
Many scientists are currently working on investigating how quantum advantage can be exploited on hardware already available today. Three years ago, physicists...
'Quantum technologies' utilise the unique phenomena of quantum superposition and entanglement to encode and process information, with potentially profound benefits to a wide range of information technologies from communications to sensing and computing.
However a major challenge in developing these technologies is that the quantum phenomena are very fragile, and only a handful of physical systems have been...
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
24.05.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2019 | Medical Engineering
24.05.2019 | Life Sciences