A fundamental question in neuroscience is how synapses are assembled in living animals to produce behaviors and store memories. Our lab is focused on this question and uses the nematode
to examine the cell biological mechanisms by which synapses are precisely assembled during development, maintained during growth and modified during learning to store memories.
We can scrutinize the interplay between the cell biology of the synapse and behavior at three levels:
During development, neurons contact many potential synaptic partners, yet connect only to a selected subset. What are the the cellular and molecular mechanisms that instruct this precise assembly of synapses in vivo?
After synapses are specified, their relative positions and functional properties must be maintained to ensure proper circuit function. What are the mechanisms that maintain synaptic positions and synaptic function as animals grow and age?
During certain behaviors, experiences persist as memories. How does the cell biology of the synapse encode memories?