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synapses between granule neuron and Purkinje neuron in the cerebellar culture

Synapses are functional contacts between nerve cells (neurons) and are engaged in cell-to-cell communication. The efficacy of information transmission at the synapse changes depending on the previous activities of pre- and/or post-synaptic neurons. Such change is called synaptic plasticity, and has been considered as a cellular basis of learning and memory. Members in our laboratory are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms of induction, regulation and maintenance of synaptic plasticity, and are also interested in the roles of synaptic plasticity in control of animal behavior. We have paid particular attention to the cerebellar cortex, which shows simple, regular, crystal-like structure. The cerebellar cortex is involved in the motor control and motor learning, and all constituent neurons and their synaptic connections have been well described. We have been studying the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the cerebellar cortex and its role in the motor learning. Synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus has also been studied, and we recently developed novel experimental methods to visualize the location and movement of glutamate receptors during long-term potentiation. The molecular mechanism of formation of synapses and neuronal circuits are also studied in our laboratory. The techniques we use are molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, electrophysiology (patch clamp), live imaging of fluorescent molecules such as GFP (with confocal and total internal reflection microscopy), production and utilization of mutant (transgenic and knockout) mice, in vivo recording of neuronal activity, behavioral tests including eye movement recording, and computer simulation.



T. Hirano, PhD.
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