Areas of Research
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
The molecular and cellular neuroscience group contains faculty studying:
(i) synaptic transmission and the molecular basis of exocytosis;
(ii) the structure and function of ion channels activated by voltage, ligand binding or mechanical stimuli;
(iii) neuronal properties underlying function in brain regions such as the spinal cord, auditory brainstem,
superior colliculus and hippocampus.
(iv) neural development and repair. Techniques used range from patch clamping to reconstitution of
proteins in artificial systems, incorporation of fluorescent reporters into proteins to calcium and voltage imaging in neuronal arrays.
The adult human nervous system contains over 100 billion neurons connected through 10 trillion synapses.
Faculty in the department of neuroscience are interested in the molecular basis of normal development of neuronal connectivity,
which is important for the goal of repairing neural circuits after injury or degenerative disease.
Our neuroscience laboratories use state of the art genetic, biochemical, cellular imaging, and electrophysiological approaches to answer a variety of key questions
regarding neural development and repair.
Areas of focus include mechanisms of early pattern formation, neural crest and cortical neuron migration,
axon guidance and dendritic spinogenesis, assembly of appropriate synaptic contacts, as well as stem-cell mediated neuronal repair.
Systems Neuroscience has a long and illustrious history at UW-Madison, dating back to Clinton Woolsey
who started the Laboratory of Neurophysiology back in the 1950s.
A special emphasis on studies of the auditory system began with the arrival of Jerzy Rose in 1959 and continues in
the department with a distinguished auditory group that studies sensory processing at several different levels from the
cochlear hair cells to the auditory cortex.
The visual system is another area of focus in our department as well as a wide range of motor systems from the spinal cord to higher
order cognitive processes, neuroendocrine systems, and sensory coding.
The long-term goals of the Neuroscience faculty research are to translate information gained from
laboratory benches into clinical applications.
Diverse model organisms have been employed by Neuroscience investigators, ranging from invertebrates to
transgenic rodents and non-human primates, to identify modalities that regulate brain functions at molecular,
cellular, and system levels.
In addition, human stem cell models, including those from patients with neurological disorders,
allow verification of observations made in animal models in bona fide, diseased human cells/tissues.
Information integrated from and filtered through both animal and human model systems has shed light
on the pathological development of and led to devise of gene and/or cell based strategies for neurological conditions,
including developmental disorders (e.g., Rett syndrome, Autism, and Fragile X syndrome), psychiatric conditions
(e.g., epilepsy), and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Parkinson's disease).
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