Laboratory of Mriganka Sur
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developing cortex adult cortex  
Cortical Development and Plasticity

 

Molecular specification of cortical areas and thalamic nuclei
 
microarray, ten M3 staining We use microarrays to discover genes that underlie the formation of cortical areas and thalamic nuclei, and methods for manipulating gene expression to understand the function of these genes. A particular goal is to understand genetic and epigenetic/ environmental influences that govern the long-range and local connections of areas such as the visual cortex.
 
The rewired cortex
       

rewired cortex

We use two model systems to study developmental plasticity and its mechanisms. The first, which we pioneered, involves rewiring the brain: we induce projections from the eye to innervate nonvisual centers, such as the auditory thalamus, early in life. Since visually evoked electrical activity has a different spatial and temporal structure than auditory activity, visual inputs cause the auditory pathway to develop with a very different pattern of inputs than normal. We have demonstrated that this profoundly alters neuronal networks and connectivity in the rewired auditory cortex.
Sam Horng Cortina McCurry
       
The critical period of plasticity in V1    
       
dendritic spine imaging The second model system involves the formation and maintenance of ocular dominance columns in visual cortex. Here, we examine the dynamics of rapid structural changes that accompany rapid functional changes in the strength and location of connections. Specific molecules, such as actin in the cytoskeleton and plasmin in the extracellular matrix, are key players that cause changes in neuronal connectivity due to changes in electrical activity.
 
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