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Department of Statistics STATISTICS COLLOQUIUM NICOLAS BRUNEL Departments of Statistics and Neurobiology The University of Chicago Modeling Synaptic Plasticity MONDAY, November 25, 2013, at 4:00 PM 133 Eckhart Hall, 5734 S. University Avenue Refreshments following the seminar in Eckhart 110 ABSTRACT Synapses are the structures through which neurons communicate, and the loci of information storage in neural circuits. Synapses store information (‘learn’) thanks to synaptic plasticity: the efficacy of the communication between the two neurons connected by the synapse can change, as a function of the history of the activity of these two neurons. Many experiments have documented the phenomenology of synaptic plasticity in the last four decades, but the precise ‘learning rule’ used by synapses and the mechanisms of plasticity still elude us. In this talk, I will first review the relevant experimental data. I will then present a model of synaptic plasticity which describes the temporal evolution of two variables: the calcium concentration in the post-synaptic spine, which is driven by the activity of pre and postsynaptic neurons, and the synaptic efficacy, which is driven by the calcium concentration variable. This model is simple enough so that it can be studied analytically, for deterministic as well as stochastic activity patterns of the two neurons. I will show that it reproduces naturally a large amount of experimental data in various preparations, and provides a mechanistic understanding of how various activity patterns provoke specific synaptic changes. For further information and inquiries about building access for persons with disabilities, please contact Kirsten Wellman at 773.702.8333 or send her an email at [email protected] If you wish to subscribe to our email list, please visit the following website: https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/arc/statseminars.