The role of short-term synaptic plasticity in feedback neuronal networks

Project: Research project

Project Details


The primary goal of this project is to develop new mathematical techniques to investigate the role of short-term synaptic plasticity (STSP) in feedback neuronal networks. The techniques are based on extracting feedback information from different feed forward processes. The Principle Investigator will show how to define different generalized response curves (GRCs) that quantify how a neuron responds to feed forward inputs. Defining new types of GRCs, studying the effect of STSP on these GRCs and exploring the connection between GRCs and feedback will be a major focus of the project. Specific problems to be addressed include determining how phase relationships are maintained in central pattern generating networks, determining how networks combine synaptic and intrinsic resonance information to choose a preferred frequency of operation and understanding the origins of multi-stability in networks with cells that contain T-type calcium currents. Many of these problems are being considered in parallel with an experimental group that works on the crab stomatogastric ganglion.

Short-term synaptic plasticity (STSP) refers to the ability of a synapse to change its strength as a function of its usage. It is widely found in neuronal circuits across the brain. Feedback is a feature that is common to most neuronal circuits. Understanding its role in determining the dynamics of rhythmic patterns is of critical importance for understanding the function of neuronal networks. By considering the effect of STSP on feedback networks, this project will enhance our understanding of how networks of the central nervous system organize their components to perform behavioral tasks such as chewing, swimming or breathing. Due to its interdisciplinary nature and direct link with experimental neuroscience, the findings of this project are expected to be of interest to members of the larger experimental, computational and analytic neuroscience communities. Post-doctoral and graduate students will participate in various aspects of this project and will be trained in the interdisciplinary field of mathematical neuroscience. This project will also directly complement the on-going NSF funded Undergraduate Biology and Mathematics Training Program at NJIT (DUE 0436244), which began in 2004. Six of the twelve undergraduates who have thus far participated are from groups that are traditionally under-represented in mathematics and science. With its emphasis on both research and training, this project will have a longer-term broader impact of developing a trained workforce able to work at the challenging interface of mathematics and the life sciences.

Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $250,000.00


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