Synapse Biology and Cognition Laboratory

Sensory information from the environment is ultimately processed at the level of synapses, the connection between neurons that form the most fundamental information-processing units in the nervous system.

A central research focus of the lab is to understand the role of synaptic genes in cognition and disease.

Vertebrate synapses contain a large yet intricately organised signalling complex of proteins encompassing neurotransmitter receptors, scaffold proteins and cell adhesion proteins. In recent years, human genetic studies have increasingly highlighted that disruption of over 200 genes that encode postsynaptic proteins result in over 130 brain diseases. While it is accepted that postsynaptic proteins are fundamental for synaptic function, plasticity and thus behaviour, very little is actually known about the impact of postsynaptic gene mutations in regulating complex cognition and higher order processing. Moreover, modelling the complex cognitive processes that are routinely assessed in the clinical setting has been challenging in animal models.

Towards bridging the gap between mouse and human cognitive testing, the lab is employing novel behavioural technologies such as the recently developed rodent touchscreens as an innovative tool for dissecting higher cognitive functions in rodents. 

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