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Understanding computational roles of new neurons generated in the adult hippocampus (AN07AT)
Start date: 01 Jan 2009, End date: 31 Dec 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

New neurons are continuously generated in certain regions of adult mammalian brain. One of those regions is the dentate gyrus, a subregion of hippocampus, which is essential for memory formation. Although these new neurons in the adult dentate gyrus are thought to have an important role in learning and memory, it is largely unclear how new neurons are involved in information processing and storage underlying memory. Because new neurons constitute a minor portion of intermingled local neuronal population, simple application of conventional techniques such as multi-unit extracellular recording and pharmacological lesion are not suitable for the functional analysis of new neurons. In this proposed research program, I will combine multi-unit recording and behavioral analysis with virus mediated, cell-type-specific genetic manipulation of neuronal activity, to investigate computational roles of new neurons in learning and memory. Specifically, I will determine: 1) specific memory processes that require new neurons, 2) dynamic patterns of activity that new neurons express during memory-related behavior, 3) influence of new neurons on their downstream structure. Further, based on the information obtained by these three lines of studies, we will establish causal relationship between specific memory-related behavior and specific pattern of activity in new neurons. Solving these issues will cooperatively provide important insight into the understanding of computational roles performed by adult neurogenesis. The information on the function of new neurons in normal brain could contribute to future development of efficient therapeutic strategy for a variety of brain disorders.
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