Spring 2021

Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and Plasticity

Listed in: Biology, as BIOL-411  |  Neuroscience, as NEUR-411


John P. Roche (Section 01)


Plastic changes to synapses are thought to underlie many higher order functions of the brain in both the developing and adult nervous system. Knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity is critical to understanding the complex functions of the brain to which these changes contribute. This seminar course will primarily focus on the most well-studied example of synaptic plasticity, synaptic modifications in a region of the brain called the hippocampus. These changes are thought to underlie our ability to learn and remember. We will look at the experimental attempts to understand these processes, explore the most recent advances in synaptic development and function, and relate this information to prior studies of synaptic modulation and pathologies associated with altered synaptic function. Students will utilize critical analysis of primary literature in order to gain a broad understanding of the historical underpinnings of the field as well as the most recent advances.  Students will analyze and discuss primary research papers, covering topics that include invertebrate memory models, long-term potentiation in the mammalian hippocampus, developmental plasticity, and synaptic tagging.

Requisites: BIOL/NEUR-214 required, and either BIOL/NEUR-301 or BIOL/NEUR-351 are recommended, Limited to 18 students. Spring. Professor Roche.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to senior Neuroscience majors and then junior Biology, BCBP, and Neuroscience majors.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021