Ralf Schneggenburger: Plasticity mechanisms for the developmental acquisition of strong inhibitory synapses in the auditory brainstem

Neurons and synapses in the lower auditory system are specialized for ultrafast information processing and for the preservation of timing information. For example, specific excitatory synaptic connections can contain several hundred transmitter release sites, which enables them to rapidly and reliably activate the postsynaptic neuron. More recent work also suggests that inhibitory synapses can be strong and fast-releasing. However, we know only little about how these highly specialized synaptic properties are acquired during brain development.
In this project, we will investigate how strong and reliable inhibitory synaptic connections are built during brain development. We will test the hypothesis that an interaction between immature inhibitory and excitatory synapses, and/or the transient use of excitatory transmitter and its phasic release at inhibitory terminals, instructs the growth of strong inhibitory synapses. We will use state-of-the art mouse genetics combined with patch-clamp recordings in brain slice preparations to address these questions. This research might be relevant for an understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie central auditory processing disorders.

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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft