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From Molecules to Memory -
Expression Mechanisms and Behavioural Correlates of Long-Term Potentiation (LTP)

The proposal concentrates on a central biomedical problem: the nature of nerve cell changes underlying learning and memory. The objectives are to elucidate the molecular changes occurring in the coupling between nerve cells taking part in a learning process. The objectives will be achieved by assessing the behavioural correlates of a cellular model of learning - long-term potentiation (LTP) - in the belief that this phenomenon represents a biological universal used by higher and lower animals. In spite of extensive effort, a clear relation between LTP and behaviourally induced learning is still lacking, largely due to the absence of convincing learning tests. In addition to behavioural assays, the project will employ state-of-the-art electrical and optical imaging techniques to determine the biophysical properties of the synapses involved. The molecular alterations of these nerve cells lie at the foundation for new ways to diagnose, prevent, and possibly treat learning and memory defects.

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