Research Areas

Synapses and Signalling

The synapses and signalling research theme incorporates researchers investigating the structure and function of ion channels, neurotransmitters and the role of molecular signalling cascades as they pertain to communication between neurons and other brain cells.

Research questions in this theme span the subdisciplines of cellular, molecular, developmental, systems and clinical neuroscience to investigate neuronal signalling in the healthy and diseased nervous systems.

Researchers in this group use electrophysiology (single channel, intracellular, extracellular and field recordings), in-vivo and in-vitro animal models, computer modelling, molecular approaches and other techniques to understand how neurons communicate, how these processes contribute to essential brain functions and how particular cellular components and pathways participate in the development, maintenance, or plasticity of neuronal networks.

Members of this research theme apply these techniques in models of Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and neuropathic pain, among other conditions, to understand how ion channels, neurotransmitters and signalling cascades are altered in or contribute to the diseased brain.  

Techniques available include:

  • Single channel and whole-cell patch clamp recordings from cultured neurons as well as those in organotypic culture and in acutely isolated brain slices.
  • Recordings from channels expressed in Xenopus oocytes and/or other expression systems.
  • A variety of live tissue confocal imaging techniques, including multiphoton imaging.
  • Immunohistochemistry, immunoblots and biotinylation techniques.
  • Computer modelling techniques.
  • Voltametry techniques for neurotransmitter detection.
  • Monitoring single cell exocytosis by means of capacitance measurements
  • Laser capture microdissection.
  • Molecular analysis (RT-PCR, Q-PCR) including single cell PCR.