Neuroplasticity in Memory & Addiction Group

About us

image - Neuroplasticity in Memory & Addiction GroupResearch Theme

Our group investigates the cellular mechanisms of memory formation.
We aim to identify novel mechanisms that modulate or preserve neuronal connections.
This may be translated into treatments for disorders of impaired or aberrant connectivity, such as addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, PTSD, and epilepsy.

Lab techniques

Electrophysiological recordings: extracellular field recordings, multielectrode array, brain slice patch clamp

image - Neuroplasticity in Memory & Addiction Group

Optogenetics: controlling neurons with light

image - Neuroplasticity in Memory & Addiction Group

Live-cell fluorescent calcium imaging

image - Neuroplasticity in Memory & Addiction Group

Current research projects

1. Addiction associated neural plasticity

Drugs of abuse cause superphysiological activation of brain pathways involved in processing natural and drug rewards, overwhelming the homeostatic mechanisms that normally constrain reward-associated behaviours and neuronal plasticity.

2. The role of endoplasmic reticulum in neuronal calcium signaling

Memory and plasticity are governed by Ca2+. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the primary regulatory organelle for Ca2+signalling. We have shown that metabotropic receptor stimulation releases Ca2+ from the ER generating wave-like rises in dendritic calcium that invade the nucleus and a subset of spines. Using genetically encoded Ca2+ sensors to we are evaluating the ER’s capacity to integrate Ca2+ over space and time.

 

Team

Collaborators

  • Gavan McNally, UNSW Psychology
  • Natasha Kumar, UNSW SoMS
  • John Disterhoft, Craig Weiss, Matt Oh, Northwestern University
  • Dominc Cheng, Auburn

Students

  • Chanchanok Chaichim (PhD candidate)