Gordon M Shepherd MD, DPhil
Professor of Neurobiology
Neurons; Synapses; Nervous system
The main research interest of this laboratory is in the neuron as a complex system and in the synaptic organization of neurons into microcircuits in the brain. We focus on the ways that information processing by the neuron takes place through an interplay of the geometry of dendritic branching, the mechanisms of transduction of synaptic or sensory signals, and contributions of passive and active membrane properties.
Extensive Research Description
We use mammalian olfaction as a model system because it has several distinct advantages: the olfactory bulb (OB) is one synapse from the site of sensation, the olfactory epithelium, with no thalamic relay; the OB has a three-layered cortical organization rather than the six layers found in other cortexes, which simplifies analysis of activity and connection patterns; and the OB is located on the dorsal surface, which allows access for in vivo imaging and manipulations. Our laboratory also contains a computational unit, which is used in parallel with the experiments to explore mechanisms of information processing in dendritic spines, dendritic trees and cortical microcircuits. Through support of the Human Brain Project, we are developing the SenseLab Project for the construction of databases for receptors and neurons to facilitate the integration of these multidisciplinary data into computational models of neurons and neuronal currents. .