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[BSI Seminar Series (BSS)] Professor Mu-ming Poo, Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai and Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

“ Neural Plasticity from Synapse to Cognition ”

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June 22, 2017 16:00 - 17:30


BSI Central Building 1F Seminar Room


In this retrospective lecture, I will recount the path-finding in my research on neural plasticity over the past three decades. It began with an interest in understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying synaptogenesis and synaptic competition, first at Xenopus neuromuscular synapses in culture and later at Xenopus retinotectal synapses in vivo. Guided by Hebb’s synaptic learning rule, these studies led to the discovery of synaptic modulatory functions of neurotrophins, the time window of spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), and the retrograde spread of long-term potentiation and long-term depression in neural circuits. Further studies of synaptic plasticity associated with learning and memory functions of the brain led to the finding of a repetition interval-dependent consolidation of memory, and an architectural rule for new synapse formation associated with long-term memory in the adult brain. In exploring whether higher cognitive functions such as self-awareness may originate from experience-dependent neural plasticity, we found that mirror self-recognition, a hallmark of self-awareness known to be limited to humans and great apes, could be acquired by rhesus monkeys following extensive training for visual-somatosensory or visual-proprioceptive association, leading to a new experimental system for studying the circuit mechanism of self-awareness. This path-finding in studying neural plasticity illustrates both the haphazard nature of scientific discovery and the usefulness of loosely defined hypotheses for fruitful exploration.

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Tetsuo Yamamori [Tetsuo Yamamori, Molecular Analysis for Higher Brain Function ]
Name: Ohno