Andrew Plested: “We want to know how neurons obtain information, how they store it and how they process it

In order to answer these ambitious questions, Andrew Plestan focuses his research on one of the pieces involved in these processes: the glutamate receptors. “By understanding how they work, we understand the neural connections and how the brain processes and stores information.” Plested has explained his progress in a session within the IDIBELL seminar series on

September 16th.

The aim of the laboratory of Molecular Neuroscience and Biophysics, Leibniz Institute forMolecular Pharmacology in Berlin, led by researcher Andrew Plestan is to know in depth the structure and mechanisms of glutamate receptors to understand how

synaptic transmission works in the brain .

Glutamate receptors are involved in 60% of the synapses in our brain. “In the future, their study could be a first step in the investigation of new therapies,” says the researcher, “for example, a significant increase of glutamate in the brain causes overactivation of the receptors and eventually cell death and stroke. If we could learn more about this mechanism, we could investigate new treatments.” “However”

added Plested ,”the knowledge of these molecules is not just for studying diseases but also to understand how our brain works.”

In this sense the Andrew Plested group examines the desensitization process: It is unknown why, in some cases, although the glutamate is bound to its receptor does not occur the synaptic response. The researcher is convinced that “the study of this process could answer questions about the processes of brain development or learning. There is signal but no response. What’s the point? For years it was believed that it did not matter but has now been shown to be critical for brain development. “

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