Richard Tsien

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NYU Neuroscience Institute, New York, NY, USA


Synaptic Physiology and Plasticity

Title of the talk:
Neuromodulatory tuning of transmission fidelity in CNS circuits


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Our lab works in many areas of neuroscience, with multiple approaches, but there is a unifying question: how are neuronal networks attuned to meeting the demands of information processing in the brain?
We have seen our share of controversial issues over the years. Do neurotransmitters work exclusively by opening ligand-gated channels or do they modulate voltage-gated channels as well? Do calcium channels exist, are there multiple types, and if so, how many? Do ion channels switch between different patterns of opening and closing – gating modes – and is this switching central to how channels are modulated? Is activity-dependent control of neuronal gene expression more than a matter of raising calcium concentration in the nucleus? While these issues were once hotly debated, most neuroscientists would now regard them as settled long in the distant past.
In our current work, we do not seek controversy, but are willing to deal with it in order to test unconventional ideas. With past progress in mind, we’re tackling today’s unresolved questions with the guiding principle that new tool development is paramount to successfully pushing science forward.


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