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Modelling synaptic and intrinsic plasticity in the somatosensory cortex (360G-Wellcome-209998_Z_17_Z)

Somatosensory plasticity is as key ingredient of sensorimotor learning; a better understanding of the plasticity mechanisms involved would yield insights for neuroprosthetics, motor rehabilitation, and chronic pain. In the somatosensory cortex, changes in the hand representation have been described under stimulation paradigms lasting only a few hours. Conversely, other evidence shows that cortical representations are stable over long periods of time. These disparate results raise the question of whether different plasticity mechanisms, operating on different timescales, might be involved. Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques have allowed us to observe and track plasticity in the human brain, leading to novel insights into the timescale and extent of sensorimotor learning. However, inferring specific plasticity mechanisms from these data has been challenging, as observed cortical changes are often compatible with multiple mechanisms. Here, we focus on two forms of plasticity: synaptic plasticity, which determines which specific inputs will excite a cortical neuron, and intrinsic plasticity, which determines the neuron’s overall responsiveness. We propose a computational framework that will track the effects of these two mechanisms on sensory cortical representations and make predictions that can be empirically tested using existing fMRI paradigms.


04 Dec 2017

Grant details
Amount Awarded 99605
Applicant Surname Saal
Approval Committee Science Seeds Advisory Panel
Award Date 2017-12-04T00:00:00+00:00
Financial Year 2017/18
Grant Programme: Title Seed Award in Science
Internal ID 209998/Z/17/Z
Lead Applicant Dr Hannes Saal
Planned Dates: End Date 2020-05-01T00:00:00+00:00
Planned Dates: Start Date 2018-05-01T00:00:00+00:00
Recipient Org: Country United Kingdom
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
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