In the adult brain, connections between neurons are mostly stable. However, we are still able to learn or adapt to changes in our environment or physiological states. Learning and adaptation in the adult brain are thought to be mainly driven at the microscopic scale by changes in synaptic strength or recycling of the synapses. However, synaptic plasticity can only modulate communications between neurons whose branches are spatially close.
It is known that, to a limited extend, mature neurons can add or remove branches to their existing tree. This is an important notion, as this could dramatically expand the number of potentiel partners a neuron could talk to in the network. It could also condition the ability of certain neurons to repair the network after lesions.
Very little is known on the molecular control and the functional implication of long-term and large scale neuronal branch dynamics in the adult brain.
It is challenging to study this phenomenon, as it likely happens in a few neurons in the dense meshwork of the brain. To enhance our capabilities to document axon remodeling in the adult brain, we design assays based on mouse genetics and cutting-edge imaging techniques.
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